Rally with GET-UP on April 17: Unions Belong at Penn, Democracy Belongs at Penn (and GET-UP Election Update)

An important update on GET-UP’s union election and our demonstration on April 17—a part of the National Day of Action for Higher Ed involving more than 90 campuses across the U.S.:

As you know, a supermajority of graduate workers filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in October 2023, and they have waited half a year to vote because of Penn’s obstructionist tactics. In late March, the NLRB finally ruled that the election could go ahead and set a date: April 16-17. In an unprecedented show of support, over 240 faculty members signed a public statement of support for graduate unionization, and four campus labor organizations—GET-UPAAUP-PennPenn Museum Workers United, and United RAs at Penn—announced a joint rally on April 17.

In a twist of events, the election date was changed with less than a week’s notice. On April 10, the NLRB ruled that a group of graduate student workers whom Penn had tried to exclude could vote in their election—a victory for the grad union. It then postponed the election by two weeks to provide the administration time to produce a list of eligible workers. In response, on April 10, Penn asked the NLRB to delay the election until the fall—a shameless attempt to deny workers their legal right to vote. The NLRB rightly rejected Penn’s proposal and is trying to reschedule the election for May 1–2 (dates to be confirmed).

Penn’s eleventh-hour demand to postpone the election indicates that the administration’s anti-union campaign is not over: the University intends to fight its own research and teaching assistants straight through the election, and likely beyond.

In the face of Penn’s anti-union campaign, our April 17 demonstration for grad workers’ right to vote for their union is more important than ever. As we approach the end of an academic year during which we have also faced serious attacks on freedom of assembly, academic freedom, and shared governance, GET-UP members’ vote for a collective voice at Penn also represents a vital step toward democratizing our institution. The demonstration will go ahead as planned on April 17 at 1pm at the Button. The message of the day remains: Unions belong at Penn. Democracy belongs at Penn. We stand with grad workers as they prepare to win their union.

So please come on April 17 at 1pm to the Button to show your support, and to stand up and be counted on this National Day of Action. Your participation is important as a show of unity across job categories in support of the rights of grad workers—and as an expression of broad-based support for the principle of democracy at our institution and in our society.