If you do not find an answer to your question in the current FAQs
Please email: Graduate.Student.Union.Inquiry@dartmouth.edu
Please email: Graduate.Student.Union.Inquiry@dartmouth.edu
A union is an association of employees formed to negotiate with their employer with respect to matters regarding terms and conditions of employment, including pay, hours, and other employment-related conditions. The union is the exclusive negotiating agent, meaning no other individual, body, or organization is permitted to work with the employer on matters relating to employment.
Union representatives negotiate with employers through a mechanism called collective bargaining. The results of this process are contained in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and both parties are bound by the terms of this contract during its term or until a new CBA is in place. The union remains the exclusive representative for members of the bargaining unit until and unless (1) the union disavows interest in representing the unit, or (2) bargaining unit members voluntarily sign a petition seeking to decertify the union (after which a vote would be taken).
Union dues are a fee charged to bargaining unit members by the union and are calculated by the union to cover the costs of the union representation work, including contract negotiation, administration, and disputes. The dues may be a flat rate or a percentage of wages. They may also be used for the purpose of organizing at other employers and for making political contributions. Unions may seek to require non-union members to contribute an "agency fee" (sometimes called "fair-share" fee), typically a small percentage less than full dues, which is calculated by the union.
Unions support themselves through the assessment of union dues or fees collective from bargaining unit members. Although the collection of dues are often facilitated by employers through a dues checkoff card, the money paid in dues must come directly from the employee. Unions can set their own dues through internal mechanisms, but GOLD-UE has stated on its website that "dues are generally less than 2% of the stipend." Although GOLD-UE commits to pursuing a stipend increase that exceeds its dues amount, it remains to the bargaining process to determine what, if any, stipend increases will occur.
Unions normally seek to require that all members of the bargaining unit pay dues or an agency fee. Although we do not know the exact amount, at other schools this is around $500/year, or up to 2% of the stipend.
This will be subject to the collective bargaining process. However, most unions, including the UE, seek to have the payment of dues or fees be a mandatory requirement for holding a position covered by the bargaining unit. In most contracts, the union attempts to obtain a penalty (including potentially being fired from the bargaining unit position) for any workers who refuse to pay required dues or fees.
GOLD is an organization of graduate students at Dartmouth that voted in July 2022 to become affiliated with the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, and is now known as GOLD-UE.
Yes. All students who are part of the bargaining unit are represented by the union. This includes international students. Membership in the union has no impact on immigration status or visa conditions. Individuals who are not "members" of the union are still exclusively represented by the union and bound by the terms of the CBA.
A collective bargaining unit (CBU) is a group of employees whose terms of employment share a community of interest, and who are represented exclusively by the union in employer-worker negotiations over the terms and conditions of employment.
No. Once the positions in the CBU are mutually agreed upon by the union and the employer, those positions will be represented collectively by the union in the event of an election win for the union.
Communication and collaboration between faculty and graduate students will always be encouraged, but there will be limitations if a union is successfully formed. Under federal labor law, graduate student teachers/researchers are deemed "employees," and their advisors are deemed "supervisors." Normal discourse that takes place between faculty and students with respect to assistantships could be altered, as the union would be the exclusive bargaining agent for students in the bargaining unit on all issues related to the terms and conditions of employment.
Whether stipends and benefits increase or not is wholly dependent on the outcome of the negotiations. Negotiations will determine the Collective Bargaining Agreement which will be ratified by each side. See more about the CBA below.
The CBA is a labor contract between the union and the employer that memorialize the parties' agreements concerning wages, hours and working conditions of members of the CBU. Mandatory subjects of bargaining as determined by the law and the NLRB include: wages, overtime, grievance procedures, termination of employment, discharge and discipline. Permissible clauses may be negotiated by each party. The final Agreement lays out specific expectations between employer and employee and typically run for a period of three or four years.
Not unless defined by the collective bargaining agreement or agreed to between the union and Dartmouth.
The student representatives chosen by the union will negotiate on behalf of the students in the collective bargaining unit. Some unions will decide the representatives by a vote, others use a different process. Dartmouth will also be represented at the negotiation table.
Both sides come to the negotiating table to listen to each other and understand each other's priorities and demands. There is no expectation that negotiations begin from any pre-established point or convention –either side is free to set its goals are priorities and present them for negotiation. For example, either party could propose a new grievance policy during negotiations, or the parties could agree to revise certain policies that are already in place.
The terms of the agreement are negotiated in this way until both sides agree on a tentative agreement which is then taken to the bargaining unit for a ratification vote. If the agreement is not ratified, it is not implemented and the parties would need to return to the bargaining table.
It is difficult to say – the parties must continue to meet and bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached or they are impasse. According to Bloomberg Law Labor Data, between 2005 and 2022 the average amount of time between an NLRB election date and first collective bargaining agreement is 460 days.
Before a CBA is in place, Dartmouth must maintain the status quo concerning all work-related benefits, including time off and vacation. These cannot be unilaterally modified by discussions between an individual bargaining unit member and their PI.
The GSC will continue to exist, but it can have no role as the representative of bargaining unit members related to the terms and conditions of their employment at Dartmouth.
Dartmouth feels that unionization is counterproductive to addressing the needs of our graduate students. Over the years, Dartmouth and the Graduate Student Council have had a productive and successful partnership in advocating for graduate student needs, and this collaboration has produced a number of positive results including stipend increases, policy revisions, decreases to health benefits costs, expansion of graduate housing, and improvements in mental health support. We feel that collective bargaining may actually slow down our ability to respond quickly and decisively to situations that arise; the process may also introduce additional costs, time, and bureaucracy to making decisions that directly affect graduate students.
GOLD-UE has a website presenting their perspective at:
Yes, Dartmouth is committed to free speech and faculty and staff are free to discuss their opinions about unions, or experiences with unions, with students.
What is not appropriate is TIPS: Threats to students about action that might be taken because of their unionization; Interrogation of students about their thoughts or intentions with respect to unionization or voting; Promises of things that will be granted if students do not unionize; and surveillance of students in order to determine who might be working with or for the unionization process.
Yes, it is possible that the collective bargaining process could result in a limit on the number of hours a graduate student could spend in a lab or in the field related to their compensated employment.
All PhD and a number of master's students at Dartmouth receive a stipend to help offset the cost of living. For the 2023 academic year, this is $35,196, and the Guarini School has requested support to increase this 13.6% to $40,000 for 2024. For the ~800 stipend-receiving students, Dartmouth also pays for the student health plan ($4,163/year); the health access fee ($412/year); and for international students, the international student fee ($428/year).
Stipend-receiving graduate students also receive full tuition scholarships, which for a year (four terms) total $80,916.
PhD students normally receive this support for five years, so altogether Dartmouth invests about $600,000 in training each graduating doctoral student.
Stipends at Dartmouth are funded from various sources. In AY22, graduate students received about 700 12-month stipend equivalents, totaling more than $22 million.
About $10.9 million of this funding came from either Guarini School's ~200 Dartmouth Fellowships (DFs) or other internal funds such as faculty startup accounts or departmental and faculty reserve accounts.
Over half of stipend funding came from external grants, including individual or program training grants ($1.3 million) and research grants to faculty ($9.9 million).
Dartmouth pays the international student fee ($428/year) for stipend-receiving students.
Dartmouth's Office of Visa and Immigration Services (OVIS) hosts at least three bus trips each fall term, and one bus trip in the winter term, to the Social Security Administration office in Concord, and provides additional resources regarding the Social Security Number application process:
OVIS provides access to Sprintax tax preparation software and hosts a tax workshop with a tax attorney each winter term. OVIS staff are not authorized to give specific advice or assist with tax filing preparation. OVIS provides resources about U.S. taxes on their website:
OVIS provides resources for obtaining a NH or VT state driver's license:
OVIS provides immigration documents for dependent family members of students (spouses and children under 21). OVIS is not authorized to provide immigration assistance to individuals outside of our sponsorship. See:
OVIS provides one-to-one immigration advising to all international students, as well as regular workshops and Q&As on topics such as curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT), and visa options after graduation. OVIS is not authorized to give legal advice but can provide immigration attorney referrals upon request for such matters as U.S. permanent residence, criminal issues, asylum, DACA, and immigration assistance for family members (parents, siblings, etc.).
The Council on Graduate Studies (CGS) meets quarterly and comprises faculty representatives from each of the graduate programs overseen by the Guarini School, the president and vice president of the GSC, and Guarini School dean and assistant deans.
The Guarini School dean and assistant deans meet monthly with GSC leadership.
The assistant dean for Graduate Student Affairs meets regularly with the GSC, and liaises with the GSC Executive Board and the Guarini School deans.
Two representatives from the GSC leadership board sit on the Student Liaison Committee, a group of student leaders that meets regularly with Dartmouth senior leadership (including the provost and executive vice president) and the Board of Trustees Committee on the Student Experience.
Dartmouth provides graduate students with stipends to help offset the cost of living expenses while students are enrolled as students in their programs of study and training. In contrast, other students at Dartmouth, including MD, MBA, MEM, MPH, many MS, and of course, undergraduate students, do not receive stipends and are also charged tuition. With health insurance, fees, and tuition factored in, stipend-receiving graduate students receive about $120,000/year in support, and, of course, also receive a PhD or MS degree upon the successful completion of their studies.
While Dartmouth does not consider stipends to be only a wage, the MIT Living Wage Calculator indicates that for Grafton County the "living wage" is $33,424/year. Graduate students currently receive a stipend of $35,196/year and also have health insurance paid for by Dartmouth. The stipend is currently planned to increase to $40,000/year in July 2023.
While the union would likely negotiate for a formal grievance process, it may not ultimately be more effective than the current process available to students, which has been revised, clarified, and expanded in recent years. The current process in place starts with informal resolution, but if this is inappropriate for the situation or fails to resolve it, students have access to their research advisory committees, the Guarini deans, the Title IX Office, the office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Dartmouth Ombuds, and the offices of the faculty deans, to assist them through the process and resolve any situations that arises.
Closed and open union shops are terms used to describe different types of relationships between labor unions and employers. These terms are most used in the context of labor and employment law in the U.S.
In a closed union shop, employees are required to become members of the labor union or a related union within a certain timeframe after being hired. This means that to work for the employer, employees must join the union and pay union dues or fees. The requirement for union membership is usually outlined in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and the employer. In a closed union shop, union membership is a condition of employment. If an employee refuses to join the union or fails to pay union dues, they may be subject to disciplinary actions, up to and including termination. Closed union shops are less common due to legal restrictions and the recognition of workers' rights to not join a union.
In an open union shop, while union membership is not a requirement for employment, new employees may be required to either join the union or at least pay union dues or fees after a certain period. This can typically be a probationary period, such as 30 days after starting employment. The idea behind open union shops is to encourage employees to join the union voluntarily by allowing them time to assess the benefits and drawbacks of union membership; however, even if employees choose not to join the union, they may still be required to pay certain fees to cover the cost of the union's representation activities since all employees in the bargaining unit benefit from the terms negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement.
Laws regarding union shops vary depending on the jurisdiction. In the U.S., the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) regulates the relationship between unions and employers and has placed certain limitations on the use of union shops, making closed shops illegal in most cases; however, states have the authority to pass right-to-work laws, which prohibit union security agreements altogether or make it illegal to require union membership or payment of union dues as a condition of employment. New Hampshire does not currently have a right-to-work law.
The union would be the sole authority and exclusive agent empowered to negotiate with Dartmouth for issues related to compensation, hours worked, and other conditions of employment. In the past, the GSC has worked effectively with Dartmouth on reviewing and addressing some of these issues, but it would no longer be able to do so.