Recent Updates and Events

Priorities Survey 

Many want to know what types of benefits come from joining a union. During our election, there were many requests for concrete examples of contracts with real gains for other unionized student workers around the country. Many student-workers also wanted to see what types of issues could be taken to the bargaining table. Since you decide the bargaining priorities, we created a survey to show the range of benefits or protections possible, with examples of other contracts from around the country. These surveys will likely be seen by our democratically elected bargaining committee, once we win our union. Please email us at for a link to fill out the survey.

Immigration-Related Organizing
  • Many immigrant workers at Harvard are under a visa issued to individuals from countries affected by natural disasters or civil conflict called the Temporary Protected Status; this visa type is under threat of cancellation from the Trump administration. Cancellation would affect tens of thousands of individuals in the Boston-area and tear apart families and communities. The deadline for Haitian workers to renew their status is fast-approaching on July 24, and ISWG is helping to publicize free legal resources to Harvard’s community members. If you are interested in this outreach at Harvard and the local Boston community and can speak Spanish or Haitian Creole, email or join us at ISWG meetings (details below).
  • The Supreme Court will hear the case on Trump’s Muslim ban in October. In the meantime, the order is allowed to take effect in a limited manner, banning individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, who do not have “a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” Read more here. The HIO emergency immigration and visa hotline for Harvard affiliates encountering problems at the border is 857-302-3772. Additional resources available here
ART Petition 
Harvard’s American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training is facing suspended admissions after the US Department of Education gave the program a “failing” grade for burdening its graduates with unmanageable levels of student debt. Graduate students in the program are petitioning the Harvard administration to improve funding in ways that are commensurate with programs at other universities and the rhetoric of Harvard’s commitment to the arts. Read more and sign on here.

Rally for UMass Adjunct Faculty
Harvard graduate students rallied on June 20, 2017 in solidarity with UML adjunct professors in their bid for a fair contract, which would include fair wages and equal access to 
health insurance or retirement through the state employee system. Read more here.

Chart of the Month
This year GSAS PhD students are faced with a wage increase below the Boston-area inflation rate because of the endowment’s poor performance. But unionized Harvard employees are still seeing their contractually guaranteed wage increases on par or above the inflation rate. With a union, we’d secure stable wage increases so we don’t continue to see what amounts to a pay cut. 

An Organizer’s Bio: 

Why I support my union, HGSU-UAW! 

Jocelyn Fuentes:
“I am a fourth-year PhD student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. My research focuses on the connection between mantle convection and carbon dioxide cycling throughout Earth history. I support the graduate student union because I believe that we should be able to have a voice in our working conditions, health care benefits, and wages. Through collective bargaining, we will be able to negotiate a contract that both protects and improves upon the benefits we already have as graduate student workers.”

Getting in Touch and Getting Involved
If you would like to get involved in organizing your union this summer, please email us at
Everyone is welcome to attend our general organizing meetings, which are Wednesdays at 2pm. The International Scholars’ Working Group meetings are Wednesdays at 6pm, alternating weekly between Cambridge (July 5, July 19) and Longwood (July 12, July 26). If you are interested in coming and would like more information, please send us an email. 

Labor in the News
  • President Trump nominates Martin Kaplan and William Emanuel for the NLRB, and eyes other steps to roll back Obama-era labor legislation. Read more here.
  • At Columbia, the administration continues to refuse to bargain with its graduate student union, GWC-UAW Local 2110, despite the regional NLRB rejecting their appeal. Rather than respect the democratic process, they have appealed to Trump’s NLRB in Washington, DC., showing the administration is more willing to work with the Trump administration than give the student workers equal rights as other workers across this country. Read more here.  
  • Despite the Trump administration’s and various university presidents’ attempt to fight it, the graduate student movement continues to grow. Union elections have already been won at Tufts, Brandeis, and American University in Washington D.C. Additionally, Boston College graduate workers will be having their election in the fall semester. Petitions have been filed at the University of Chicago and Penn State.

Workers of the UAW
UAW Local 2110 is an amalgamated union with 30 contracts covering over 3000 workers, including teachers, administrators, editors, computer operators, librarians, museum curators, typesetters and graphic artists.
Megan Grann, an employee and union steward at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC describes the benefits of being a UAW, member: “…I think the vast majority of us believe in the mission of the museum and we are proud to work here. But we also have to earn a living, and many of us also have to support a family. We are able to do that at MoMa on the strength of the union.”
Lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union worked around the clock to fight President Trump’s Muslim ban, including members of Local 2110 – Carmen D. Santiago, Jenna Laila, Sheryl Douglas, Kate Larkin, and others. As Vogue magazine recently phrased it,“For the Women of the ACLU, Taking on Trump Is Just Another Day At the Office.”