Survey Results! Happy Hour! New Leadership! And 1,000 Cards!

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who filled out and passed along our survey. We have a full report available here and will be releasing some specific opinion pieces about it over the next week so be sure to check our blog. The least surprising, but most frustrating finding was how overworked graduate workers are. A plurality reported working more than the required 20 hours, and many reported working much, much more than that. It was a nice reminder as to why exactly we are spending so much time and energy organizing.

Fall semester is starting and graduate workers are returning from fieldwork, finishing teaching preparations, and suddenly remembering how many undergrads actually go to Penn State (the freshman class is an absurd 8,600), and we are still holding our regular happy hours. Join us starting at 7pm on Friday August 26th at Chumley’s for drinks and pizza.

In exciting news, as of last week over a thousand graduate employees have signed cards in support of a union election! We’re heading into the start of the semester a little more than halfway to our goal, and need your help to continue our forward momentum.. If you want to get involved please contact our Chief Organizer, Brianne Pragg or attend our first meeting of the fall semester next Tuesday, August 30 from 6-8 in room 220 of the municipal building. Most importantly, we need people willing to show us where the graduate workers are in their departments.

And that brings us to the last piece of news: our fall leadership is set! Spencer Carran (Huck Institutes) and Cassie McMillan (College of Liberal Arts) are the new Co-Presidents of CGE. They have been heavily involved for a long time now and will be able to guide us through the finish line. Brianne Pragg and Kevin Reuning will continue in their respective positions (Chief Organizer and Record Keeper).


Nominations for Fall CGE Leadership

We are currently accepting nominations for our fall semester leadership. We will accept nominations until Wednesday evening, and all nominations can be sent to We have four positions to fill:

  • Co-President (2 positions); These individuals are in charged with running meetings and generally making sure that things get done as they were promised to get done. 
  • Chief Organizing Officer (1 Position): In charge of tracking our organizing efforts and helping to train in new organizers. 
  • Record Keepr (1 Position): Takes minutes at meetings and runs elections and any other polls to make decisions. 

For more information you can look at our constitution here. 

GPSA Elections: Vote Now

Dear graduate employees and allies,
This is a friendly reminder to vote now for your GPSA representatives. 
Voting takes place here: The polls will be open until 11:59pm on Thursday, April 7.
We have a number of CGE members running for office who need your vote:

Executive Board

  • Anne Whitesell (Executive Secretary)
  • Azita Ranjbar (Faculty Senate)
  • Brianne Pragg (Graduate Council)


  • John McKay (Engineering)
  • Kevin Reuning (Liberal Arts)
  • Colleen Unroe (Education – WRITE IN)
  • Jinhee Choi (Education – WRITE IN)

If you want more information about the candidates, you can find their statements here:

If you have any questions about the platforms of any candidates, the election process, or the GPSA more generally, please don't hesitate to ask. 


Rally and Card Drive Kick Off!

Dear Friends and Colleagues: 

The time has finally come! On February 17th, the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) and the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) will gather on the steps of Old Main to formally announce our partnership, as well as declare the beginning of our card drive! This is the first step in petitioning the university to recognize a graduate employee union.

By the stipulations of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Law, we need to collect authorization cards from at least 30% of all Graduate Employees that declare "yes, we want to have a vote about a union" in order to initiate the vote (we hope at least 60% will sign). This is our first step towards forming a union, and we need EVERY ONE OF YOU who supports this to be out there. 

We will begin our rally event at 12:00 PM, on the Old Main steps. Graduate students will share their concerns and goals through unionization; PSEA speakers will share their experiences with organizing; faculty supporters will be present to offer their support. We will have cards on-site, for those of you who are ready to sign and join a growing wave of graduate students working together to make their university a better place.

Free coffee, hot chocolate, and tea will be provided. Come make history with us. 

-Coalition of Graduate Employees

PS. Don't forget to RSVP on the Facebook event and invite all your friends as well. 

Vote now on our national affiliation – There is power in numbers!

We are canvassing all grad student workers on whether they support affiliating with Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). If we agree to affiliate with PSEA, we would work with them to gather signatures for the card drive and petition for an election. Then if enough graduate student workers agree to unionize during the card drive, we will begin negotiations with the university with the support of PSEA. After meeting several times with the PSEA, we believe they would be a strong ally for the CGE and graduate students at Penn State more broadly. Below we briefly explain affiliation and the relevant information about PSEA. Please read these comments and then click here to vote. Only PSU graduate student workers that are currently employed by Penn State should participate.

Affiliating: Most unions affiliate with a larger national organization that provides direct legal and organizing support as well as a place for solidarity. The majority, but not all, of graduate unions are affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) or the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). For example, University of Iowa grads are affiliated with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

Affiliation does not mean that the PSEA or the National Education Association  (NEA) controls our union. The national affiliate provides support and connects unions together to become stronger. PSEA would provide legal support, support with initial organizing, and strong national advocacy on behalf of all graduate workers. From PSEA’s perspective, they expect us to stand in solidarity with their other members (teachers, educators, and administrators in Pennsylvania), and part of our dues (1% to 2.5% of the average stipend) would go to further their work.

PSEA: Below is the information that is most relevant to making a decision about PSEA.

  • Local Presence: The PSEA represents teachers and staff in the State College school districts. They have a local office in State College, as well as an active undergraduate club.

  • Interest: Members of the CGE have met with PSEA members several times and PSEA have always been engaged in trying to help us. They have provided information and are clearly informed about the needs and position of graduate student workers.

  • Dues: They would expect dues at the $16 to $33 per month (1% to 2.5% of the average stipend). More importantly, no dues would be collected until AFTER we sign a contract with Pennsylvania State. Graduate employees would of course be the ones voting on approval of any contract.

  • Experience: PSEA has not currently organized graduate employees, but the national NEA is actively supporting several graduate union pushes now. In addition, PSEA represents faculty at several colleges in Pennsylvania.

Vote Now!


Nominees for Co-Leaders

We are currently taking nominees for co-leadership position. The co-leaders will be the face of the CGE. Although they will not be the sole point of contact for it they will be the first ones in charge of talking with media or at events. As such whatever graduate student is selected must be unafraid with speaking about the issues of graduate students, especially how diverse these issues are. We hope that the leadership will reflect the diversty of gender, race, and colleges that the CGE represents. To nominate yourself or someone else please email  

Meeting Summary from 9/21/15

  • Moderator: Darwin

  • First discussion point: How do we formalize decision making to ensure that we can make decisions when necessary?

    • We are going to create two committees to deal with different efforts: media and organizing.

      • Media: will build contacts with media, create press releases and other related documents, control the website, and do any necessary social media.

      • Organizing: will be in charge of canvassing, flyering, tabling, as well as outreach to other groups and individuals.

    • Those in attendance discussed their personal preferences for what group to work with. We nominated two individuals to be the contact point for the initial committee:

    • Also discussed having a face of the organization. Decided to create two co-leaders who would help to keep things organized but also be the outward face of the organization.

      • We found it best that we have one woman and one man.

      • Darwin and Robert were nominated, but we will take more nominations now before we vote. Email with nominations.

  • How to talk about unions:

    • We did not spend a lot of time on this as members of the Labor and Employee Relations dept weren’t available to attend. We did discuss the need of holding a training ASAP.

  • Upcoming Events:

    • The grad school is holding townhalls. We need to be involved in them.

    • There are different townhalls for different colleges. As of now we know:

      • College of Ag – Oct 5th 5:30

      • College of Liberal Arts – Oct 6th 5:30

      • Eberly College of Science – Oct 7th 5:30

    • We want to table outside of the event with information about the union.

    • We need to discuss what questions should be the focus of our asks.

    • Organizing committee should take over planning this.

  • Other items:

    • Jeffrey M – Has been talking with American Association of University Professors (AAUP) about them supporting us. They have offered to sign a letter of support.

    • We have the opportunity to have a running column in the Collegian. Need to finalize what our first letter should be (Media).