Union Vote Starts on October 13th!

The time to vote has finally arrived! This is our chance to certify our union and start the process of bargaining.

Voting will run from 9:00 AM on October 13th to 4:00 PM on October 26th. Eligible voters will receive an email from Intelivote including a pin enabling them to vote either online or over the phone on October 13th. We expect the results to be certified on November 2nd.

Find the information you need below or on our FAQ. If you have a question that isn't answered submit it here.

Why We're Voting Yes

Why a Union?

A union allows us to use democratic determination to decide what issues (pay, healthcare, other working conditions) affect us and to negotiate with the university administration as equals about those issues. As a group, we have far more power than we do as individuals and would be better positioned to improve our working conditions and make the University of Alaska a more equitable institution. In other words, it is about having more power in the employee-employer relationship. That being said, unionization does not require the University of Alaska administration to reach an agreement with us, or guarantee that any specific demands will be met.

Tens of thousands of student employees nationwide have formed unions to create more powerful, democratic mechanisms for determining their working conditions.  The University of Alaska is currently the only public R1 or R2 University on the U.S. west coast that does not have a student employee union.  Here are some examples of how unionized student employees have improved their conditions.  Furthermore, the university has shown that, without being held accountable through collective bargaining, they will not proactively improve conditions for graduate student employees (as demonstrated by the fact that they have not increased our pay, improved rights or protections in over a decade).

Why are we joining with UAW?

We have affiliated with UAW (International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America) to help us successfully form a union. UAW is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America.

 Over 100,000 employees in higher education have already chosen to join UAW, including Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington, University of California, Columbia University, and more.

Who will make decisions?

We will!  All major decisions are made democratically by members, and a great benefit of having a union is that there are established structures and procedures for making decisions, communicating and resolving issues, and the legal and administrative structures to support and facilitate this that we can adapt to our context in Alaska.  Being a chapter of a union organization does come with some rules and guidelines (to keep everything legal and copacetic), but as long as local chapter decisions fall within those, the members of that chapter make decisions through a democratic process.

And: don’t forget, right now we have no say and have no control over decisions that directly impact us.  That distinction belongs to the University administration.

What about dues? How much will this cost?

We will not pay union dues until after we’ve signed authorization cards, successfully established our union through a representation election, and then bargained and democratically ratified our first contract.  At that point each individual student employee can decide whether or not to become a dues-paying member.  Dues will be an important source of power for us, and are independent resources that support our work (unlike, say, student fees which are controlled by the University of Alaskaadministration).  Union members democratically decide how union dues are spent, and create accountability: we all can and should decide whether the value of a collective bargaining agreement is worth union dues.

UAW membership dues are 1.44% of gross income.  At the University of Washington, wages for unionized student employees have increased by well over 30% in the past 10 years, whereas here at the University of Alaska wages have barely increased and other out of pocket expenses (for health care, student fees, etc.) have increased. ASEs with extra financial costs—parents, caregivers, international students—receive little if any support. Arguably, we have paid more as a result of not having the power that comes with a union. 

Make an Informed Choice!

How do I know if I'm eligible to vote?

All graduate Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Student Assistants, and Fellows on the university payroll on both September 15th and October 27th are eligible to vote in this election. All eligible voters will receive an email Notice of Election along with voter instructions and a unique PIN on October 13th (first day of the vote). If you don't receive an email and believe you should be eligible to vote, please get in touch with us at organize.agwa@gmail.com so we can figure out what happened.

We sent out an email informing folks that they were eligible to vote on October 2nd. If you did not get this email from us, it means you were likely not on the list provided by university admin. Please contact us as soon as possible if you believe this was a mistake. Likewise, if you got the email, but are not a graduate TA/RA, fellow, service/engagement assistant, or student assistant, please let us know.

When is the vote?

Ballots will be available on October 13rd and voting will run through October 26th. We encourage everyone to vote as early as possible and not put it off until the last minute.

How do I vote?

Voting will be occurring primarily online through the Intellivote electronic voting system with options to vote by mail or over the phone if that is better. Online voting occurs at a unique website, designed for this election and linked to in the notification email. We will have more details forthcoming as they become available.

You will be able to vote either online or by phone. Here's what it will look like when you vote online or the process you'll use to vote by phone!

Vote Online (click through for step-by-step instructions)

Vote by Phone

What do I do if I need a new PIN?

If you need a new PIN because the first one didn't arrive or it was spoiled just contact Intelivote through the provided contact information. The original PIN will be deleted and a new PIN will be assigned. Once a PIN has been used to vote, you may not receive a new PIN.

What does it mean to vote yes?

Voting yes in this election means that our union will be certified and we can begin bargaining for a first contract. Certification means that we will have all of the legal protections afforded to unionized workers and we can begin to bargain for better working conditions. We want a strong majority of our unit to vote yes so we have the strongest possible position as we enter into bargaining!

Is my vote confidential?

Yes! Neither the university nor AGWA-UAW will see how you voted. However, if you vote yes, we do ask that you inform us so we can keep track of how we are doing as the election progresses. 

How do we win?

The vote is won as long as a majority of voters vote yes. Once this happens, our union will be certified and we will have all the legal rights and protections afforded to unionized workers. 

How can I help turn out voters?

We'd love any help you can give us! There are tons of ways to help and if you reach out to our organizing committee at organize.agwa@gmail.com we will let you know what options there are to help out.

What does UA have to say about our effort?

Check out our breakdown of UA's webpage on the "graduate student employee union"!

Don't see your question? Check our FAQs or email us at organize.agwa@gmail.com.