April 28 bargaining update

Bargaining teams from MIT and the GSU met for the 21st time on Friday, April 28. While the teams continued to make some progress, MIT was disappointed that, at the end of the bargaining session, the GSU stated it would stop responding on open items until MIT conceded on a “union shop” provision, which would require all bargaining unit members to join the union/pay dues or pay agency fees. MIT favors the “open shop” arrangement that exists at peer institutions such as Harvard and Columbia and also applies to roughly 100,000 graduate student workers at public universities with unions.

Before making this demand on union shop, the GSU presented a proposal on discrimination and harassment that shifted little from their initial position. They propose allowing a bargaining unit member to choose between MIT’s internal review processes or a traditional grievance and arbitration process. MIT has repeatedly objected to this approach because, among other concerns, it is inconsistent with federal requirements. Nonetheless, MIT will be carefully considering the union’s proposal and will continue to seek alternatives that reach a compromise.

The GSU also put forward economic counterproposals, though they continue to remain far above what MIT has communicated is sustainable and responsible for the Institute’s community, both today and into the future. Despite MIT’s highly competitive offer in the April 24 negotiation session that met many of the GSU’s top priorities, the union called for a 16% increase in salaries with an annual cost of living adjustment plus 1% thereafter. The GSU indicated they are not going to adjust their salary demands in order to reach a contract that would benefit all graduate students in the bargaining until MIT agrees to a union shop. The union shop provision would require each student to send thousands of dollars in dues and fees over the life of a contract to the union.

Despite the concerning direction that the GSU is taking the negotiations, it is important to note that MIT and the GSU have reached agreement on numerous terms related to both economic and non-economic issues; indeed, the GSU’s own communications tout the fact MIT has compromised on many issues in an effort to reach agreement.

With only one scheduled day of negotiations remaining – May 4 – MIT remains committed to negotiating in good faith over the terms and conditions of employment for those in the bargaining unit and urges the GSU to do the same so that we can achieve our collective goal of arriving at a contract in May.