ITHACA, N.Y.—Today, more than 2,500 graduate employees at Cornell University voted overwhelming to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers and its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers. The new affiliate is called Cornell Graduate Students United.
“Since CGSU formed 18 months ago, we have had great success highlighting the issues that matter for thousands of grad employees, including stipends, workers’ compensation, sixth- and seventh-year funding, and a voice in university affairs,” said James Ingoldsby, CGSU’s communication and outreach chair. “The union undertook a rigorous internal process to decide whether to affiliate, and if so, who to affiliate with. We were convinced the AFT was best placed to provide us with the support necessary to achieve justice for the thousands of graduate employees who take on steep teaching and research loads each semester. Cornell works because we do, and we look forward to harnessing the power of our membership to escalate our campaign.”
“Today, graduate employees at Cornell stood up to say, ‘We deserve to have our voices heard,’ just like the tens of thousands of graduate students already affiliated with the AFT,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “We are delighted that the members of Cornell Graduate Students United have overwhelmingly voted to partner with the AFT, which is the largest union of faculty in the country, in their campaign to be recognized as higher education professionals.”
Weingarten continued, “As an alumna of the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, I am particularly honored by this vote. I am confident the CGSU-AFT can set the example for graduate employee relations across the country. While there are real issues, CGSU wants a productive relationship with the Cornell administration; we hope Cornell does as well.”
“Cornell thrives, in large part, because of the important work its graduate employees perform every day. They are essential to the vibrancy of the academic community at Cornell,” said NYSUT President Karen Magee, who is also an AFT vice president. “They should be treated as professionals and have a meaningful voice in the important decisions that affect them.”