You are all part of – and really, are the heart of – the Graduate Employee Organization, the labor union for graduate assistants at the school. The GEO is a union in all definitions of the word: we negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the university, which then sets minimum pay and benefits for all GAs. Signing a dues authorization card is what makes the collective bargaining agreement possible: without dues, the university would be able to lower our pay, freeze (or reduce) our benefits, and worse.

If you would like an Organizing Committee member to come and discuss the content of this email to your department please email Jonathan Vega Martinez at to schedule a talk. We’d love to explain these developments and their importance to you and peers in a face to face setting!

While all GAs are in the union, the union asks all GAs to be dues-paying members by signing a dues authorization card. (Make sure to sign at the bottom left!) By becoming a dues-paying member of the union, you benefit and are eligible for:

– The minimum stipend for all GAs (and the raises we receive to that stipend every year)
– Representation in grievances
– The Student Health Insurance Benefit ($2750 in AY22-23)
– The tuition waiver, which is pro-rated to your assistantship hours
– Access to the Scholarly Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for travel and academic expenses, administered by the union)
– Access to the Emergency Support Fund (a $25,000 fund for unexpected financial hardship, administered by the union)
– You can run in Union Elections
– You can vote in Union Elections
– You can vote to ratify the contract in bargaining years

We strongly recommend that you sign a dues authorization card so we can keep these benefits! Every year, the university tries some new scheme to disenfranchise union members and the union – and every year, we have to find out a new way to push back against it.

By not being a dues-paying member of the union, you cannot run for or vote in union elections, nor can you vote to ratify the contract. This means that you cannot vote for or run for the organizing committee – the people who negotiate the contract – nor ratify and express approval or disapproval for the contract. Additionally, you may be charged a service fee should you require representation as part of a grievance. 

This is the Dues Authorization Form is also the FERPA waiver. Waiving your FERPA rights only applies to the union, and the entire purpose of it is to make it possible for the union to get in touch with you and your colleagues and help organize. We do not request your academic information like grades or GPA. Furthermore, signing the waiver does not allow some random person to walk in off the street and request your information. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU SIGN THE FERPA WAIVER.

The end of Fall semester is near – and Spring is just around the corner. Along with Spring will come BARGAINING – and that means we’ll be negotiating for our raises for the 2023 and onward contract year, as well as our benefits for those years, which will include the health insurance benefit.

Remember: THIS IS YOUR UNION. Without your involvement, we do not win at the negotiating table, and the university can claw back our benefits – don’t let them. Join the union, and show up during bargaining!

The GEO Organizing Committee
Warren Hinckle

Author: Warren Hinckle

Jack Owens is a union activist and writer based out of the greater Boston area.

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