MIT Graduate Student Union NLRB election to be held April 4–5

On both days, the voting will take place from 9 a.m.–1 p.m., 2:30–3:30 p.m., and 5:30–8:30 p.m. in Walker Memorial’s Morss Hall

The vote to decide whether or not a graduate student union will be formed will be held April 4–5, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced Feb. 28. According to the NLRB Notice of Election, the vote will take place on both days from 9 a.m.–1 p.m., 2:30–3:30 p.m., and 5:30–8:30 p.m. in Walker Memorial’s Morss Hall.

In order to form a union, a simple majority of voters must vote in favor of the union.

The notice states that MIT graduate students enrolled in degree programs “who are employed to provide instructional or research services, including research assistants (RAs), teaching assistants, and instructor G’s who were employed” by MIT during the payroll period ending Feb. 15 are eligible to vote in the election.

Additionally, RAs in in the Linguistics and Political Science departments, non-grader hourly employees who “may provide instructional or research services,” and graduate students conducting research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute “who are either supervised or paid by MIT (but not both)” are also able to vote in the election, although “their ballots will be challenged since their eligibility has not been resolved.” If necessary, the “eligibility or inclusion of these individuals” in the bargaining unit “will be resolved” after the election.

Finally, the notice writes that undergraduates, graduate student resident advisors, graduate students not employed as RAs or TAs, hourly graders who are not also RAs or TAs, graduate students not seeking MIT degrees, “office clericals, managers, guards, and supervisors” are not eligible to vote.

In a Feb. 28 press release, the MIT Graduate Student Union (GSU) wrote that following the vote by RAs and TAs, the NLRB will “rule on MIT’s argument that Fellows should be denied their right to vote” for the union and set a date for a “Fellows election” if they are deemed eligible to vote.

The GSU wrote that the “MIT administration hoped to delay” the vote by initiating a “lengthy legal process aimed at denying Fellows the right to vote.” This led to the GSU deciding upon a two-step election process that would grant “the majority of graduate workers their right to vote.”

Chancellor Melissa Nobles and Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education Ian Waitz wrote in a Feb. 28 email to graduate students that the election will determine whether “about 3,750 of MIT’s 7,000 graduate students” — those eligible to vote in the election — will form a union.  

If the graduate student union is formed, it will be represented by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE).

As required by federal law and subpoena, MIT will share the 3,750 eligible graduate students’ phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses with the UE and NLRB. The NLRB will use this information to provide information about voting, and the UE will “be able to use this personal information to assist in their campaign efforts.”

In the past weeks, graduate student members of the GSU, professors, and MIT administrators including Nobles and Waitz have authored guest columns and letters regarding the election for The Tech’s Opinion section.

Update 03/17/2022: A previous version of the article featured a link to an older version of the NLRB notice. The link has been updated to the revised notice. Additionally, the room locations were changed in the revised notice, so the article has been updated to reflect these changes.