Yale graduate students vote to form labor union

Yale graduate and professional school students have voted to form a labor union, President Salovey said after a count by the National Labor Relations Board.
illustration of two people sitting on benches.

(Illustration by Eri Griffin)

Yale graduate and professional school students have voted to form a labor union, President Peter Salovey said Monday after an official count by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

With today’s result, the university will now turn to bargaining in good faith with Local 33 to reach a contract,” he said in a message to the campus community.

In October, the labor union UNITE HERE Local 33 petitioned the NLRB for an election, seeking to represent graduate and professional school students at Yale. The university honored the request and worked with Local 33 representatives on the terms of the election, which was held on campus Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and included an option for mail-in ballots for eligible voters unable to participate in person.

The NLRB counted the votes today and certified the results. A total of 2,039 votes were counted of 3,214 graduate and professional school students eligible to vote; 1,860 voted in favor of unionization, 179 voted against.

Throughout the fall semester, we have consistently affirmed a few key facts and principles: that the leaders of the university care about the well-being of all our students, that a democratic election in which all eligible students have the right to vote was the appropriate way to decide the question about unionization, and that we should address this matter as a community through civil, open discourse,” Salovey said.

Now the university and Local 33 turn to bargaining.

The bargaining unit will include students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) with teaching or research appointments and students in the professional schools with teaching appointments, the message said.

Salovey said today’s development will affect the entire community, and he encouraged everyone with questions about graduate student unionization to review a frequently asked questions page prepared by the Graduate School.

As we work with the graduate student union, we will continue to be guided by our commitment to Yale’s educational and research mission and to the success of all our students,” he said. “As a faculty member who mentored and taught graduate and professional school students for decades, I take seriously our responsibility as educators and advisors, and I encourage all faculty members to stay informed and to review the guidelines for engaging with students on the subject of unionization. As we work with the new union, we are fortunate that we can build on the strong relationships we have established with the other unions in the Yale community.”

From the outset of the election process, Yale emphasized the core values of free expression and mutual respect, Salovey said.

I am thankful to everyone who upheld these principles and engaged constructively across a range of perspectives during the period leading up to the election,” he said. “As we move forward together, I know we will continue to sustain the spirit of openness and inclusivity we fostered during the election process.”

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