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February 10, 2022

Clark University graduate students to unionize

Photo | Grant Welker Clark University's quad in Worcester

Graduate student workers at Clark University in Worcester formally requested union recognition in a letter to the college administration on Wednesday.

The group is prepared to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board if Clark does not voluntarily recognize the union and begin bargaining, according to the letter which was signed by a 17-student organizing committee.

A supermajority of graduate student workers in Clark’s Graduate Arts and Sciences and International Development, Community, and Environment  programs have signed union authorization cards. 

Clark University said it was still looking into the issue when asked for a comment Thursday morning.

The group would be represented by the Worcester-based Teamsters Union Local 170, which is the fifth-largest union by membership in Central Massachusetts, according to WBJ’s Book of Lists.

“This is a historically significant moment for graduate labor,” the letter said, referring to graduate students at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UMass Amherst and Tufts University, who have made efforts to unionize in the last two years.

Clark University Graduate Workers United began organizing in the spring of 2020 amid a healthcare premium hike, and ultimately gained subsidies for half of graduate workers’ healthcare costs that year, according to a Google Document published by the group. 

Since then, CUGWU has focused on fair stipends and working conditions for graduate workers, as well as the school’s healthcare and COVID-19 response.

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February 10, 2022

As a previous graduate student worker and co-chair of the GOLD Young Alumni Council at Clark University, I am genuinely curious as to the specifics of what the CUGWU is requesting in regards to fair working conditions and the school’s COVID-19 response.

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