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.