Unionization at Penn

AAUP–Penn supports the principle of workplace democracy and the protected right of workers to organize on our campus and across higher ed. Our university is in the midst of an extraordinary wave of unionization, with an 87% majority union election win by United RA’s at Penn in September 2023, another recent win by Penn Medicine house staff in CIR/SEIU in May 2023, and graduate student employees in GET-UP filing for an NLRB election in October 2023 after a majority have signed authorization cards.

Unfortunately, Penn’s central administration has responded by launching anti-union campaigns crafted by the law firm Cozen O’Connor. The Provost’s Office has further attempted to enlist faculty by sending messages and links to websites framed as neutral information but laden with anti-union talking points which they are encouraging faculty to forward to advisees.

In response, AAUP–Penn leadership and the chapter’s Labor Solidarity Task Force delivered a letter calling on the administration to take down their anti-union websites. When they refused to do so, we published an op-ed in the DP asking faculty to reject these tactics and not to allow themselves to be used as conduits for anti-union messaging. We have also published an annotated guide, How to Read an Anti-Union Website.

In addition, we are hosting a fall-semester series of Faculty Conversations on Unionization at Penn where colleagues can educate ourselves and each other on the nature of unions in higher ed, discuss common questions, and debunk some anti-union myths. These information sessions are scheduled for September 13, October 3, and October 20th at 12 noon. Please see the flyer (also linked below) for further details and to register for a session. AAUP–Penn’s own FAQ on grad unionization—a handout for faculty, by faculty—may also answer some of your questions or help you address concerns you hear from colleagues.

Quick Links to AAUP–Penn Resources for Faculty on Unionization at Penn

You can find updates and resources on unionization in this tab and in the “News” tab. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have questions, need support, or are ready to get involved.