Admin's Talking Points

The University Administration has published a website - and purchased internet advertising and posted flyers and digital posters - stating reasons why they think we shouldn’t have a union.  They’ve even used our campaign colors!  While they have the right to make their case, we’re not ok with them leaving out important information.  In addition to our FAQ and Report Card, please check out the table below:

See/hear other things Admin is saying?  Let us know so we can include it here!

What UA says

“A graduate student union would be a one-size-fits-all unit...”

“The differences that make our schools, colleges, degree programs, and departments unique make it impossible for all of them to be accounted for under one, umbrella agreement.”

“A graduate student union … may cost students more”

“At the very least, students would be compelled to pay union dues, which average 2% of a member’s pay or stipend.”

What UA leaves out

We’re not totally sure what this means, but it seems to be a continuation of the old, anti-union talking point that if we form a union we will somehow have decisions forced upon us that will make things worse.

Choosing to form a union actually means that everyone in the bargaining unit (graduate student employees in all departments on all campuses) can (1) bargain as equals with the University administration; (2) vote to finalize any decisions before they go into effect.

Currently, schools, colleges, degree programs and departments make decisions without bargaining and without putting those decisions to a vote by all of us.  Some examples of “one-size-fits-all” policies that are passed without our ability to negotiate or vote include:

University-Wide Student Employment Policies

UAF Graduate Assistantships Policies

UAA Graduate Assistantship Policies  

It’s not surprising that Admin would rather not share decision-making with us, but they are not reporting that campuses with collective bargaining typically negotiate higher minimums and then preserve the ability of individual departments to go beyond if they choose.  For example, at the University of Washington (where graduate workers have been unionized for over 30 years), the minimum pay rate for a Premaster student is $2664/month and for a PhD candidate is $3076/month (for the academic year at 50% FTE)–more than even the highest paid departments at the University of Alaska. But departments still have the flexibility to pay more than the established minimums, and many do (see this chart). 

This statement is ironic, since as we know the base rate for UA graduate assistant stipends didn’t increase for 15 years (and only after we started seriously beginning to organize our union). But the concept is that union dues are guaranteed (they’re not) while improvements in wages/benefits are not (true! but highly unlikely).  This is misleading to false.

Remember: we vote on the terms of our contract.  In theory, we could vote in a contract that makes things worse for us, but does that make sense? Also, each of us decide as individuals whether to pay duesafter the first contract is bargained. It’s factually inaccurate for Admin to say that they are compulsory (and they know itsee below).

False and false.

It’s unfortunate that the Graduate School would state that we would be “compelled” to pay union dues, while elsewhere the University Labor Relations Office points outcorrectlythat compulsory dues or representational/agency fees are against the law: “On June 27 the Supreme Court determined that it is unconstitutional to require public sector employees who chose not to become dues-paying union members to instead pay an Agency Fee.”  

For the record, the exact amount of dues under the UAW Constitution is 1.44% of gross monthly pay.