The latest on negotiations with the GSU

Dear colleagues and students,

We write to share updates on MIT’s negotiations with the Graduate Student Union (GSU). All the information you need to stay current – negotiation updates, FAQs, and background on key issues and sticking points – are available at

Here is where things stand after 18 negotiation sessions between MIT and the GSU since last September:

  • Both MIT and the GSU are seeking to agree on all contract provisions by May.
  • MIT continues to follow the principles we developed to guide our negotiations at the outset of this process.
  • We have reached agreement on many provisions. You can learn more about areas of agreement here.
  • There remain, however, areas where we disagree. We want to note two significant sticking points:
    • The GSU is insisting that all graduate students in the bargaining unit must pay membership dues or fees to the union (most of which would go to the national UE organization) in order to maintain their RA, TA, or Instructor G appointments. We believe students should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to join or financially support the union.
    • MIT graduate students currently receive the second-highest salaries among their peers nationwide. The GSU has remained steadfast in its demand for a 31–38% salary increase, along with many other new or increased benefits. The union’s proposal would cost the Institute well over $100 million every year, which is not tenable, particularly in light of the nearly 9% pay increase all graduate students received last year. MIT has put forward a 4% salary increase and additional need-based grants which will continue to meet reasonable living expenses. You can read more about the union’s economic demands and MIT’s counterproposals here.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the information we regularly post to, including the FAQs that answer questions we’ve been receiving about various types of actions the union might be planning. For example, at Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) tomorrow, the GSU will hold an informational picket. The union has clarified that the picket is not part of a strike and they are not asking any MIT employees to withhold their labor.

Indeed, it’s important to note that the GSU has not announced any plans to strike. Still, we believe it is important to be clear and transparent at this point: If a strike does occur, MIT will not pay RAs, TAs, or Instructor-Gs while they are striking.

Achieving our shared goal of continuing to bargain in good faith and reaching a first contract by May depends on the union’s willingness to present a realistic and responsible counter to MIT’s economic counterproposals at the next bargaining session on April 20. We are encouraged that at last week’s session, the GSU indicated its firm intention to find common ground on the remaining open economic and non-economic issues before us.

If you have any questions, please email


Melissa Nobles

Cynthia Barnhart