The University of Minnesota Graduate Labor Union – United Electrical will address the needs of graduate student workers, who are the backbone of the University’s education and research mission. As essential community members in Minnesota, uniting together is our only recourse for fair compensation and treatment. We are unionizing to build social and economic equity, and to oppose racism, misogyny, ableism, transphobia and all systems of oppression perpetuated by the University, both on and off campus. To accomplish these objectives, GLU-UE is fighting for:

  1. Higher Pay and Lower Fees
  2. Comprehensive Benefits
  3. Transparency and Security On The Job
  4. Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Employment Grievance Procedures
  5. Increased Support for International Graduate Workers
  6. Justice for Minnesota Communities

Higher Pay and Lower Fees

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates that living as a single adult costs $36,367 annually in the Twin Cities and $29,159 in Duluth, up about $2,000 from last year. Our current stipends fall well below this living wage, especially considering the student fees we pay back to our employer. Fair pay means:

  • Annual stipends that provide a living wage, irrespective of whether appointments are 9 or 12 months 
  • Annual raises tied to inflation and cost of living
  • Full fee coverage as a benefit of employment

Comprehensive Benefits

Living expenses add up, especially considering grad workers come from all walks of life. A comprehensive benefits package includes: 

  • Reduced copays and expanded access to Grad Assistant Health Plan (GAHP) dental and vision coverage
  • Fair employer subsidization of GAHP family premiums
  • Affordable childcare and parental leave
  • Access to employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Affordable parking and financial support for other forms of transportation

Transparency and Security On The Job

Many graduate workers are not notified of their appointments in a timely manner. Others do not have access to safe and functional workspaces. Most departments do not provide paid job training. To enable quality research and effectively teaching, we need:

  • Clear job descriptions and expectations concerning duties, hours, and time off
  • Payment for any mandatory pre-semester job training 
  • Clean, safe, and usable workspaces and equipment
  • Hiring notices for full-semester appointments, at least one month before start of term
  • Clear paid time off policies

Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Employment Grievance Procedures

Workplace conflict, harassment, and discrimination make research and teaching unsafe and more difficult. A diverse, equitable, and safe workplace requires:

  • Robust grievance procedures
  • Clear and fair procedures for holding those who engage in abuse, harassment or discrimination accountable
  • Contractual anti-discrimination measures
  • Guaranteed representation in any meetings or hearings that affect employment status.
  • Binding guarantee of accommodations for graduate workers with disabilities
  • Transitionary funding for workers seeking to switch advisors

Increased Support for International Graduate Workers

International graduate workers are a fundamental part of the University and, with few-to-no outside options for funding and employment, often experience labor abuse, discrimination, and racism from their supervisors and advisors. These situations are rarely reported, or adequately addressed, due to fear of retaliation. Support for international workers means:

  • Coverage of the unfair and discriminatory International Student and Scholar Services fee
  • Employer subsidization of OPT processing fees and visa fees
  • Adequate, accessible legal aid for immigration visa processing, and tax info sessions available in multiple languages

Justice for Minnesota Communities

The wellbeing of graduate workers at the University and the wider Minnesota community are inseparable. As a land grant institution, the University has failed to uphold its commitment to Minnesota through a long history of displacement and exploitation. We strive to improve conditions for graduate workers, all University workers, and people across Minnesota. We will fight for demands that affect graduate workers and the community that include, but are not limited to, housing, climate, and racial justice.