More details emerge on MIT and Graduate Student Union agreement

Kornbluth: “The negotiations were thoughtful, serious and collaborative.”

On Sept. 25, President Kornbluth announced in an email to the MIT community that the administration and the MIT Graduate Student Union (GSU) reached an agreement. That same day, the GSU announced that the contract had been ratified, according to an X account with the handle @MITGradUnion. The contract vote passed in favour, with 999 voting for it, and 44 people against—a split of 95.8 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Kornbluth believes that this contract will bridge a gap between the research being conducted and students’ wellbeing. “In concert with a faculty advisory committee, we sought to be responsive to our graduate students without jeopardising our research and educational enterprise or the interests of other members of our community,” Kornbluth wrote.

The new contract will give GSU members intellectual property rights on par with faculty and staff, 15 vacation days in a year, up from ten, and a grievable workload clause to prevent burnout. A $10,000 need-based grant for employee members with children was also agreed upon. Doctoral and eligible Master’s students with children are also afforded the same privileges, with grants beginning at $6,500 for one child to $8,500 for three or more children.

The GSU also successfully bargained for workplace provisions like transitional funding when changing advisors and further protection from discrimination and harassment. Such protection includes clauses such as gender equity, where a member may safely seek recourse if facing gender-based harassment, and restroom equity, allowing access to gender-affirming restrooms.

Improvements on pre-existing arrangements were also made, as graduate students are now given a 70 percent T-Pass subsidy, up from the previous 50 percent, and a substantial 83 percent dental insurance subsidy, which did not exist before. Moreover, international students will also receive a new $1,200 bonus to cover their immigration fees and an assurance that the International Students Office will process their request in a timely manner. 

Furthermore, graduate students, from research assistants to instructors (Instructor-Gs), will expect a raise in their wage rates per each year of the contract. In the coming years, increases will begin at 3.5 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively, along with a back pay increase of 5.4 percent this calendar year. The GSU can request MIT to provide the aggregated wage data to ascertain the pay rate of each GSU member. In addition to a pay raise, research and teaching assistants, along with Instructor-Gs, can expect a tuition remission commensurate with the effort expected of their position.

The GSU’s contract will expire in 2026, where the GSU will negotiate with MIT again if both parties want to extend or terminate the agreement. In this period, the GSU will be unable to hold any strikes, as stipulated in the contract. Kornbluth stated that both parties “struck a good balance” and believes that it “[laid] a foundation of good faith and mutual respect for the future.” Kornbluth wrote that she hopes to move ahead with “a sense of new beginnings.”