Fact-checking the Duke FAQ website

Introduction:

As graduate students, we’re trained to look for inaccuracies and correct biased information when we grade our students’ papers and conduct our own research. Sometimes we even have to evaluate what our colleagues publish. So when we saw the administration’s new website on unionization, we felt compelled to do just that: review it and make sure it provides unbiased and accurate information.


What they said:

obtain-the-right_cropped

Correction:

To be accurate, we are the union, which means we would represent ourselves. We look forward to the chance to make improvements surrounding issues like our stipend levels, health and dental insurance, continuation fees, and accountability mechanisms for harassment, among other things!

It is regrettable that the administration misrepresents who the union is. We, as graduate student assistants, are the union. We will represent ourselves at the bargaining table. While we have called on SEIU to help us navigate this process, we decide on the issues we fight for.

Here’s how we can all participate: if we have enough support to hold an election, and we win, then we are legally empowered to negotiate for improvements in our working conditions that will improve our training, teaching and research, and the entire University.

When we form our union, your relationship with your advisor, PI, provost or dean, is up to you and them. Our contract will set a floor, not a ceiling.


What they said:

indvidual_cropped

Correction:

If Duke would like to treat us better than what is in our contract, would we complain? Our contract will set minimum standards for graduate student assistants. We are not aware of any examples of contracts that have had a negative impact on graduate students. Additionally, Duke cannot make unilateral changes to the contract once we’ve won our union, and nothing will change until we’ve voted to ratify our first contract. That’s why the administration is resorting to vague language.


What they said:

who-should-vote

Correction:

That’s true of any democratic election! The fact is that all graduate student employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement will benefit from and be protected by that agreement.

 


What they said:

opt-out

Correction:

After we win our union, everyone will be able to fill out a bargaining survey to help decide our priorities in negotiations. In our union, everybody has a voice!


What they said:

stop-me_cropped

Correction:

The administration is implying on a decision that we haven’t made yet. We can look to other unions to see that graduate students do not decide to limit themselves from the freedoms that they cherish — they only agree to set limitations on potential abuses by the administration. We will follow that same course.


What they said:

vote-on-contract_cropped

Correction:

Because we will decide together, as a group of graduate students, what our various standards should be, we won’t negotiate for something worse than what we currently have. If some graduate students are content with their salary, contract, or other terms of employment, their situation will not be worsened. Our concern will be raising the floor.


What they said:

dues-cropped

Correction:

It’s our goal to successfully negotiate a first contract that’s worth much more than the amount of dues we’ll pay to help fund a healthy organization.


Conclusion:

While the administration’s website is presented as a helpful way to “get the facts,” the administration has created a biased and inaccurate picture of our growing campaign to form a union. If you’re ready to stand up for your fellow graduate students by forming a union, sign this public petition of support today.