001aAaron Bekemeyer. I’m a G2 in the History Department. I’m working for a union for grad employees because I believe in democracy in the workplace: we are workers, and our teaching, our research, and our lives are better when we have a say over the conditions of our work. Come talk to me if you want to learn more and get involved!
002Abbie Weil. I’m a third year doctoral student in the Slavic Department, working on 20th century Czech prose, food writing and mystifications. I got involved with the unionization efforts on the heels of the Harvard Teaching Campaign, which was the most impressive and effective student action I’d ever seen at Harvard. Working towards unionization has helped me break out of the departmentally and personally isolating head-space that grad school tends to impose. Building HGSU-UAW, I’ve gotten to know people from across the entire university, helping me better understand this venerable institution and how we can work to effect positive change. My pet peeve is when people leave the timer paused after they take their food out of the microwave. (Staff Spring 2016)
013Alex O’Campo. I am a 2nd year in the biostatistics department developing statistical methods to study the HIV epidemic, particularly in sub-saharan Africa. I want a union for grad-employees here at Harvard because I believe grad students are some of the hardest working people I know, and should have the right to negotiate their salaries and benefits. I also believe all graduate students deserve dental, childcare, and parental leave.

Lastly, from one mathematician to another: Albert Einstein believes in unions and so do I.

Akhil Mathew. I’m a G1 in the mathematics de0100partment. My research is focused on algebraic topology, which is the study of geometric objects up to continuous deformation. I hope that the union will create a platform that will enable graduate students to secure better benefits and protections for ourselves. In addition, I’d like to see more diversity at all levels of our university.
AAndy Donnellyndy Donnelly. I’m a 3rd year in the English Department, working as a teaching fellow in courses on the literature of revolution and empire. I want a Union of grad workers at Harvard so that we can collective bargain for the things that matter to us: job protections, housing and transportation subsidies, improved health insurance, and other protections. Our Union will enable the people who do the primary teaching and research at Harvard to have more of a voice in how the university operates. (Staff Fall 2015, Spring 2016).
011Avery Davis. I’m a fourth year PhD student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program working in Steve McCarroll’s lab in the Genetics Department, working on understanding the mutational histories and phenotypic impacts of copy number variation in the human genome, with specific focus on variants arising in or affecting sperm. I support a graduate student union because I believe it will allow us to have a real voice in explaining the issues facing grad employees and give us a practical, actionable avenue for addressing pressing concerns about fair treatment, fair compensation, and many other issues.
039Chamith Fonseka. I am a third-year PhD student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program where I work on developing methods and tools for analyzing the immune system and finding new ways to combat autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Having worked as a technician for years before I joined a PhD program, I’ve been able to observe the differences in working conditions at Harvard for employees with and without union representation. I believe that graduate students will benefit from having a unified, democratic voice to advocate for their needs and work with the administration to find mutually beneficial solutions to issues that affect their everyday lives, like health care and parental leave. Unionization will catalyze the efforts of students, administrators, and faculty to develop creative approaches to overcoming both current and future obstacles together.

Christine MitchellChristine Mitchell.
I’m a ScD student in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the school of public health, studying the intersections of religion/spirituality, racism and discrimination, and health. I support the graduate student union because I’m ready to be a part of an inclusive institution where students are supported and valued as whole persons — academically, physically, emotionally, spiritually — across all identities. I believe the union can ensure that Harvard compensates its workers fairly, provides needed support services, and works to eliminate discrimination and harassment. To do this authentically, students need to have a substantive voice at decision-making tables about the things that impact how we live and work. The student voice is not incidental to Harvard. Together, we have the power to make change.
0103David Westwood. I’m a 6th year graduate student in chemistry studying the structures of bacterial membrane proteins. Although I’m on my way out and I won’t benefit directly from the unionization effort, my time at Harvard has convinced me that significant changes need to be made to graduate education. And I’m not alone–a recent survey in the chemistry department indicated that the vast majority of students have a negative impression of the department’s atmosphere. Only a graduate student union will give graduate workers the power to influence policies that impact our lives, be it formalized grievance procedures, expanded health care coverage, guaranteed time off, parental leave, or simply protecting by contract the benefits that we already have.
028Ellora Derenoncourt. I am a third year student in the Economics department, specializing in public finance, theory, and economic history. I want the Union because we will be better scholars and researchers if our benefits, wages, and jobs are protected in a contract. A union also provides the financial security to sustain a more racially and economically diverse student body and gives voice and empowerment to students from underrepresented communities. (Staff Fall 2016)
Ella AntellElla Antell. I am a second year PhD student in the history department, studying the 20th century United States. Harvard needs a union because graduate workers are a critical part of the university and deserve a seat at the table in determining the future of higher education. I am excited to be part of a democratic movement for respect, fairness, and security in our work and in our lives.
0106Felix Owusu.  I am a first year doctoral student in Public Policy.  My research focuses on U.S. social and economic policy and its impact on formerly incarcerated individuals and the low wage labor market.  I came to understand how important a graduate student union can be first hand as a member of UAW local  2865 during my time as a graduate worker at UC Berkeley, and I became an organizer here to ensure that we achieve the same voice and guarantees enjoyed by tens of thousands of graduate workers across the country.  I want a union at Harvard because a fairly negotiated and enforceable contract is the only way to ensure that the we maintain the benefits that allow us to thrive as graduate students and do the high quality teaching and research that makes Harvard the great institution that it is.
026Jack Nicoludis. I’m a fourth year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. My research is focused on elucidating the molecular structure of proteins and how structure relates to function. I want a graduate employee union because we have little say in decisions made by the university that affect our work and lives and giving graduate employees a voice would create a more inclusive community. I hope the union can improve health care coverage and reduce costs for partners and dependents.
031Kadeem Gilbert. I’m a G4 in the department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Broadly speaking, I study symbiosis between plants and animals in the interest of understanding how very disparate organisms can coexist and cooperate. Specifically I’m working with pitcher plants, which host diverse communities of aquatic organisms (despite being carnivorous). I believe a union can help maintain a positive interaction between the University and graduate students by creating a means of open feedback. Stable mutualisms generally seem to involve communication between partners (even plants communicate). As I see it, this ecological principle may be applicable.
0102Kate Franz. I am a G5 in the Virology Program researching how RNA viruses, like influenza and sindbis virus, are detected and eliminated by the innate immune system.  I’m working to build our union because I believe that graduate workers deserve a real voice in the decisions that affect us and that this can only occur through collective bargaining.  I hope to see a more democratic Harvard that supports diversity in a substantive way.
026aMatthew Leslie Santana. I am a G2 in the music department working on race and sexuality in contemporary popular music. As a graduate student instructor at the University of Michigan, I was a proud member of the Graduate Employee Organization, which has won a number of important rights and benefits for graduate students in its 40-year history. I look forward to helping to build a strong union here at Harvard that can advocate on behalf of graduate students.
0104Nicolas Sawaya. I’m a G4 in the chemical physics PhD program, studying theoretical aspects of light-matter interaction, microscopic energy transfer, and quantum computation. I’m involved with the unionization effort out of solidarity with other graduate student workers. All workers, including graduate students, should have the right to collectively bargain to improve the conditions of their employment. A graduate student union could help those who have seen consistently late paychecks, inadequate time off, or a lack of teaching fellow opportunities. It’s been an inspiring experience to work with these organizers who are pushing for a more democratic university.
0107Niharika Singh. I am a second year student in the Public Policy Department, specializing in labor and development economics. A graduate student union will make Harvard a more democratic place by giving graduate students a powerful voice in issues that concern us. Putting in place a formal structure allows us to not just hold the administration accountable on persistent issues such as late pay, but gives us a seat at the table to work alongside the administration to come up with creative solutions and ideas to improve the graduate experience at Harvard.
004Rudi Batzell. I am a 5th year in the history department writing on dissertation on the economic and social history of inequality and the welfare state. I want a union for grad-employees here at Harvard because only collective bargaining and a contract can give us a meaningful voice and real security. I’d like to see this university become more family friendly, with a greater commitment to gender equity, and I believe our union can help make this happen by negotiating a contract with extended parental leave, affordable on-campus childcare, enhanced access to benefits for partners and dependents, and affordable housing for those with children. (Staff Fall 2015, Spring 2016)
0105Sabin Dhakal. I am a G6 in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program. I work in the department of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. My thesis focuses on studying intratumoral heterogeneity in breast cancer and how clonal populations within tumors communicate with each other. After my PhD, I aspire to work in the interphase between science and policy where I hope to use my extensive experiences in the scientific research to improve the field of science and technology in general. I believe having a union will be a progressive move towards better scientific education and work environment for graduate employees at both university and national levels.
021Sam Klug. I’m a third-year Ph.D. student in the History Department, where I study twentieth-century American history. I want a union because graduate students deserve a collective voice in the university where we work, and because together we can help transform Harvard into a more democratic and inclusive place. I’m excited to be part of the growing movement of student and faculty workers in higher ed across the country who are pushing for change.
001bSarah Schlotter. I am a fourth year graduate employee in applied physics and study novel chiral magnetic structures and spin dynamics in thin film ferromagnets. I believe by providing graduate employees with job security, work-life balance protections, and adequate healthcare coverage, a graduate student union could only serve to strengthen Harvard’s core teaching and research missions. By winning a seat at the bargaining table, a graduate employee union could also address issues such as the large overhead Harvard takes from research grants, bringing more money back to fund research positions and advancing Harvard’s position as a prominent research institution.
027Selmaan Chettih. I am a 4th year in the neuroscience program developing novel optical methods for studying the interactions between neurons underlying cognitive processes. I’m working to build the union because grad-employees deserve the right to negotiate their working conditions. Individually, we each take on financial and professional risk in graduate school. Collectively, with real negotiating power, we can ensure Harvard accounts for these risks fairly, with concrete objectives like providing adequate insurance plans for dental care and vision. More broadly, I believe unionization at Harvard can be part of a broader movement nationally to build solidarity between graduate students and inject our voices and concerns into higher levels of policy decision making.
022Tina Groeger. I am a G5 in the History department researching the history of education and its changing relationship to the job market. I did my undergrad at Harvard, and at the time assumed my TFs were all something like assistant professors. Now back as a grad student, I have realized how little power graduate students have, unless we join together. I want a union to give us a voice in the decisions that affect us, to win recognition for our work as teachers and researchers, and to gain the respect that we deserve.” (Staff Fall 2015, Spring 2016)
028Waradon Sungnak. I am a fourth year student in the Immunology Program. I want the Union because I think students should have some voice to discuss and determine the benefits we receive based on the work we do. Even I am generally satisfied with what I have been provided right now, it does not mean that we should not have a say. The Union would be a great platform for every student to raise a variety of issues that matter to us and our friends.


Staff Positions

For graduate workers whose schedule permits, part-time paid staff positions are available, and we encourage all interested to apply. Applicants should have a strong interest in organizing and be able to commit a minimum of 20 hours a week. Part-time staff positions pay $500 per week for 20+ hours  per week, slightly less per semester than the standard GSAS 2/5th teaching fellow appointment.

Email us at hgsu.general [at] gmail.com if you are interested in a part-time organizing position to help build the union.

Our Voices!