I want to inform you that the Service Employees International Union, Local 500, has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking to be the certified representative for a unit of graduate assistants at American University. The filing of this petition will likely result in a democratic election in which eligible AU graduate assistants will vote on whether they wish to be represented by the union.
American University believes that the primary role of graduate assistants at the university is that of being students rather than employees, and that work done by graduate students as assistants is an integral part of their education. While the University has concerns regarding the unionization of students and, by consequence, the bargaining over matters traditionally involving issues of academic discretion, the University also respects that, under the law, graduate students have the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining.
To ensure transparency throughout this process, we have included a link to the NLRB’s notice about the petition http://www.american.edu/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=4469709. We will also launch a new page on the University website that will serve as a repository for all University communications on this matter and as a resource for graduate students as well as faculty and staff. As the election proceeds to decide whether our graduate students wish to be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 500, we encourage all eligible students to inform themselves fully about what unionization means, and to vote so that their voices are heard.