New Report: Our Union, Our Future

Graduate workers face many challenges in the changing higher education landscape. Across the country, we are uniting to face these challenges by fighting for a renewed commitment to quality, accessible higher duke-report-quotes_finaleducation that pays graduate
workers a living wage and generates more opportunities for all of our communities.

Read our new report to read about the union difference for graduate assistants:

  • Graduate unions lead to better pay, benefits, and lower fee levels.
  • Graduate students with a union have more affordable healthcare.
  • Unionized graduate assistants have won many other important benefits for economic security.
  • Unionized graduate assistants have greater protections from discrimination and harassment.
  • The union movement is an advocate for improved and transparent research funding.

Duke graduate workers want a strong organization to address a lack of voice and security on the job.

Read the report here.

Sixty percent of respondents to a survey of Duke graduate workers were “definitely interested” in joining together to form a union. Seventy-nine percent indicated that they view a role for a unified graduate worker and faculty voice in advocating for improved working conditions at Duke positively.

The higher education landscape is likely to be volatile over the next few years. By voting to form a union, Duke graduate workers can join a movement to elevate the voice of graduate workers, faculty, and other academic workers to improve their economic security, protections from discrimination and harassment, and increase public funding support for University-based research.

Read the new report “Our Union, Our Future” and commit to voting yes!

NC House members stand with Duke graduate students

Nine members of the North Carolina House of Representatives—Rep. Verla Insko, Rep. John Autry, Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Rep. Phillip A. Lehman, Rep. Greg R. Meyer, Rep. Garland E. Pierce, Rep. Shelly Willingham, Rep. Bobbie Richardson, and Rep. Susan C. Fisher—have written to President Brodhead, expressing their support for the Duke Graduate Students Union and asking the administration to take a neutral stance. We are grateful to receive support from our elected leaders!

Read their full letter below:

February 2, 2017
Office of the President
Duke University
207 Allen Building
Box 90001
Durham, North Carolina 27708-0001

Dear President Brodhead,

As a preeminent institution of higher education, Duke University is an important driver of research, education, and our economy in North Carolina. In part, the thousands of graduate student assistants who conduct research and teach courses at Duke enable this important work. As research assistants, they contribute to innovative inquiry that seeks to safeguard human health, revitalize our democracy, and spawn entrepreneurship. As teaching assistants and lead instructors, they mentor and inspire the next generation of leaders.

For all these reasons, we are encouraged by recent efforts by graduate students at Duke to join with a national movement of students and faculty uniting to improve higher education. The National Labor Relations Board’s recent decision to restore their right to collectively bargaining was a long time coming.

As graduate students at Duke exercise this right, we urge your administration to commit to the following:

  • Allow graduate students a free and fair process to form their union and collectively bargain without intimidation or threats;
  • Avoid any action that delays or interferes with the right to seek union representation or collectively bargain;
  • If a majority chooses union representation, begin negotiations in good faith without delay.

The collective bargaining process will allow Duke the opportunity to set standards for the larger region. Further, it will create a fair process for employees to improve working conditions and resolve disputes in a fashion that serves the teaching, learning, and research objectives of higher education.

We look forward to working with you on this important effort.

The following members added their signature by email:


Rep. Verla Insko
House District 56 – Orange County

Rep. John Autry
House District 100 – Mecklenburg

Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield
House District 24 – Pitt, Wilson

Rep. Philip A. Lehman
House District 30 – Durham

Rep. Graig R. Meyer
House District 50 – Durham, Orange

Rep. Garland E. Pierce
House District 48 – Hoke, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland

Rep. Shelly Willingham
House District 23 – Edgecombe, Martin

Rep. Bobbie Richardson
House District 7 – Franklin, Nash

Rep. Susan C. Fisher
House District 114- Buncombe

Fact-checking the Duke FAQ website



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. … Read more

Election update

Dear Colleagues,

We wanted to let you know that Duke requested a five-day extension on the union election in order to gather further information on eligible voters. The NLRB granted this request, which means the new dates for our election are:

Ballots will be mailed on Friday, February 3rd
Ballots must be received by Friday, February 24th

Also, this upcoming Tuesday (the 24th) we’re having a social at the FCIEMAS 3rd floor atrium from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Anyone who wants to celebrate the upcoming union election, ask questions about the union, or get more information is more than welcome!


Brad Dubik (Marine Science and Conservation) and Patricia Bass (Art, Art History and Visual Studies)

on behalf of the Duke Graduate Student Union

We have election dates!

We’re writing to give you an important update on the status of our union election. After months of the Duke administration and their lawyers trying to block our vote, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided today that we have the right to form a union!We are pleased to announce the dates for our union election with the NLRB. The NLRB will send mail-in ballots to your home address on January 31st and will count them at their offices in Winston-Salem on February 21st. In this upcoming union election, the eligible participants are PhD students who provide instructional or research services. You will hear from us again with more details in the coming weeks.

To commit to vote yes, we ask that you sign our Vote Yes letter today.

The Duke Graduate Students Union remains committed to bettering the conditions of all graduate student workers at Duke University, whether they are eligible for this particular union or not. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. We are eager to win our union and work together to improve working and learning conditions at Duke!