Graduate student union negotiations and other end-of-year updates
December 21, 2022
Dear Graduate Students,
We wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a few updates and to wish you a fantastic winter break.
This past semester has been a busy one—but one also marked with some quintessential MIT moments, from two grad students’ attempt to visit all 296 Dunkin’ Donuts in the state to policy hackathons to seeing MIT on the big screen.
We’ve also been doing our best to live up to MIT’s values, in particular those related to belonging and community. Committed to Caring, which recognizes exceptional faculty graduate student mentors who go the extra mile, continues to flourish. And the newly formed Student Veteran Success Office is connecting and celebrating our student veteran population.
As you will read below, we have continued to work hard to further enhance graduate student life and learning at MIT, including negotiating with the recently formed MIT GSU-UE as well as pushing forward recent report recommendations on advising, professional development, and diversity.
Union Negotiations: Making Steady Progress
The MIT bargaining team and the MIT GSU-UE began negotiating in mid-September.
Nine bargaining sessions have been held this semester, most of which were full-day sessions. MIT and the MIT GSU-UE have been working their way through over 100 non-economic provisions brought forth by the union. These provisions are organized into 22 contract articles that MIT and the MIT GSU-UE have been exchanging. We have reached a tentative agreement on several articles and are close to an agreement on many others.
The union’s proposals, which would apply to bargaining unit members across all of MIT’s 109 graduate programs, are thoughtful and comprehensive. We have spent the most time discussing concerns raised by the union on our health and safety processes, resources for international students, and our processes for responding to sexual misconduct and harassment. MIT administrators and faculty who have expertise on these topics have attended bargaining sessions to listen to and consider the union’s proposals. We have also been exploring peer practices on these issues and providing data and information to union negotiators so we are working from a common set of facts.
In the coming weeks, the union will present its economic proposals, which will include items such as stipends and benefits. Once we receive these proposals, we will work diligently with the union; with departments, labs, and programs; and with other stakeholders to reach an agreement.
More information about the status of our negotiations on these issues and others will be posted to our grad-union.mit.edu website early in the new year.
As part of responding to new administrative procedures stemming from unionization, we are updating multiple MIT information systems that will enable us to implement many of the commitments being made through our negotiations with the MIT GSU-UE. Graduate students will soon see changes and enhancements relating to appointment tracking, and additional changes will be rolled out over time.
We are awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the MIT GSU-UE’s petition seeking to add students on fellowships to the existing bargaining unit. To learn more about MIT’s and the union’s positions on this issue, including the Institute’s serious concerns about the potential impacts of the union’s proposal on international students, please read our recent update.
Advising, Professional Development, and Diversity: Putting Plans into Action
We also continue to work on meaningful ways to support all of our graduate students, guided in part by the priorities of the MIT Task Force 2021 & Beyond report:
- MIT is evaluating recommendations from the draft strategic plan on advising and mentoring, which includes evaluating and improving the advising and mentoring experience, as well as developing ways to address negative advising experiences. Community members have also provided feedback on the plan.
- The Ad Hoc Committee on Grad Student Professional and Personal Development is working to develop a proposal for a professional development requirement for all PhD students, incorporating feedback from international students who face additional obstacles in pursuing internships.
- As part of the Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, & Composition, we are developing an Institute-wide approach to advance recruitment of underrepresented graduate students and better coordinate bridge programs.
Again, best wishes in the closing days of the semester and please take some time to relax and recharge during the upcoming break.
Ian and Blanche
Ian A. Waitz
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Graduate Education