5 Reasons we are forming a union with SEIU

Here’s the top 5 reasons why we think uniting with nearly 2 million SEIU members, including 120,000 who work in higher ed, will help improve our work at Duke and build a better future for all.

  1. SEIU is a powerful, growing union.

Grad students are the glue that binds our university together, but too often we are overlooked. A union is a way to be heard. With nearly 2 million members and faculty and graduate worker union campaigns on dozens of campuses from coast to coast — forming a union with SEIU is the best way to win the respect we deserve and build collective power for change in higher education.

  1. Uniting with the faculty union movement will supercharge our strength.

More than 15,000 university faculty have joined SEIU since 2013, including the non-tenure track faculty at Duke. The momentum on our campus and across the nation is fueled by the work of faculty and grad students who are united in SEIU. Grad students stood with faculty—and now faculty are standing with us as we form our union..

Our colleges and universities are breaking their promise to America by becoming a luxury for the wealthy instead of a pathway to the American Dream. Students spend their entire lives trying to pay off debt, yet too many professors are paid so little that they qualify for food stamps–all while top administrators pay themselves millions and politicians starve public colleges of funding. Graduate students should stand alongside faculty and other SEIU members to restore the promise of higher education’s commitment to quality, accessible higher education that graduates students without debt, pays educators a living wage, and generates more opportunities for all of our communities.

  1. SEIU is a member driven, results oriented union.

Graduate students who form unions report that they often have more security and control over the terms of their work, teaching and research. SEIU members and faculty at Duke have told us that they have been impressed with the focus and energy brought toward their union campaign. Faculty have won well over 90 percent of their union elections with SEIU Faculty Forward — an amazing accomplishment. We know that in SEIU, this will be our union. Graduate workers at Duke will elect officers, but all members can help shape a union through bargaining surveys, serving on committees, and electing officers. During the process of achieving a contract with the administration, graduate student workers will decide when the proposed contract is good enough to be ratified by a majority vote.

  1. We want to build a wider movement for, environmental, racial and economic justice with the Fight for $15.

We understand the connection between raising standards in higher ed and the need to build a wider movement for environmental, racial and economic justice. Graduate students at Duke are proud to join with the national movement to right the American dream alongside the Fight For $15. Millions of people have seen a raise in pay because people from all walks of life are united to demand fair pay and a union and together we can make sure the economy works for everyone, not just the few at the top.

  1. SEIU members are winning dramatic improvements in their first contracts.

SEIU Faculty Forward members have accomplished an amazing amount in a short time and we are excited about coming together in a union. SEIU faculty have won eye-popping improvements in wages, access to benefits and professional development in their first contracts. For example, part-time faculty organized with SEIU and won significant pay raises ranging from 15 to 30 percent.

As the fall semester comes to a close, Duke graduate student workers are forming a campaign to build support for a union, just like several other major universities like Vanderbilt, Saint Louis University, American University and Loyola University Chicago.

We need a strong, united voice in order to win and we believe the best way to improve our working conditions is by coming together with tens of thousands of faculty and millions of other workers to fix higher education and the entire economy.

Please join us. Fill out this confidential form to show your support.

SEIU Members Advocate for Students and the Future of Higher Education

Across the country, SEIU members and activists are advocating for students and the future of higher education by:
  • Taking on the student debt crisis and for-profit industry
  • Fighting for investments in public higher education
  • Investing in underrepresented faculty and people of color
  • Building community coalitions

Want to join the movement? Take the first step by signing an authorization card online today — or add your name to the We’re Voting Yes letter if you’ve already signed a card!

SEIU members and activists have been at the forefront of the student debt movement and push for accountability in the for-profit industry—leading to billions of dollars in debt relief and the closure of predatory for-profit colleges such as Corinthian College.
The Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges, SEIU Local 1973, led the fight to pass several important student loan reforms which will make going to college more affordable in Connecticut.

A majority of faculty and students work and study at 1,700 public colleges and universities. SEIU faculty members and allied activists have made college affordability and public investment a central part of their work.

People of color and women are underrepresented in the academy. Faculty are disproportionately part time and paid less than their white and male colleagues. The California Faculty Association has taken steps to address the “cultural taxation” of minority faculty, who have a unique burden placed on ethnic minority faculty in carrying out their responsibility to students and the university community.
The CFA contract establishes that the California State University System will provide a pool of $1.3 million to provide assigned time to faculty employees for several reasons,including student mentoring, advising and outreach, especially as these activities support underserved, first-generation, and/or underrepresented students.

SEIU members are building a wider movement to win for all working families. Faculty Forward campaigns have had tremendous support of local and national elected officials, neighborhood groups and allies in the higher education advocacy community.
SEIU members and allies have rallied to bring federal attention to higher education working conditions and student debt. Faculty Forward activists supported the Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act, sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) as a way for part-time faculty to more directly access the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.