A national union representing teachers, healthcare workers, graduate students, and professionals. Our affiliation with AFT is an agreement that AFT will commit resources to organize an election campaign to win the legal right to represent Cornell graduate students in contract negotiation. Once we have won recognition and ratified a contract we will pay dues to NYSUT, part of which goes to AFT.
The NLRB ruled in the 2016 Columbia decision that graduate students at private institutions who are compensated for their labor by the university are workers, and therefore entitled to the rights to unionization, collective bargaining, and strike. Labor rights for graduate students at public universities, meanwhile, are governed by labor relations boards at the state level. Graduate workers at public universities such as Michigan, Rutgers, and the entire UC system are unionized, and in some cases have been since the 1970s.
The code of conduct (pdf) is an agreement negotiated between Cornell and CGSU. It set rules for how the recognition campaign and election were to be conducted. Cornell agreed to share graduate students' personal information to aid CGSU's organizing. CGSU agreed to not strike during the agreement and to address grievances to an arbitrator instead of the federal government (NLRB). The code of conduct established and defined the Union-Management Committee (UMC), the body for discussing issues of mutual interest to CGSU and Cornell
Amendments to CGSU’s Constitution are considered substantive decisions and are therefore determined through general referenda. Proposed amendments may be filed by the Steering Committee and/or with a petition signed by 10% of members in good standing. Once proposed, amendments are made available to the general membership for a comment period of two weeks. After final review, including circulating pro and con statements to the general body, the proposed amendment will be ratified by a 2/3 voting majority. The Legal Affairs Committee is charged with overseeing the amendment process.
Disciplinary action may be taken against any member, including officers, for violating the Constitution and Bylaws, dereliction of duty, or for actions taken against the good and welfare of CGSU. Any member of the union has the authority to file a charge by providing a written letter to the Secretary indicating the claimed section(s) of the Constitution and Bylaws that the member(s) believe are being violated, in addition to a description of the alleged action or behavior involved. Accused members will be given a full and fair hearing to determine the merit of the charge and, if so, the appropriate disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion from CGSU. Within one week of receiving a charge, the Secretary will email a copy of the charge to all members and ask for nominations for a hearing committee composed of three members in good standing. The hearing committee will subsequently accept evidence and testimony to decide on the merits of the charge before coming to a decision and publishing its rationale. A referendum of the membership requiring a simple majority to accept or reject the hearing’s decision will then be held electronically.
Any member aggrieved by an action, inaction, interpretation of the CGSU Constitution and Bylaws, or decision by CGSU may initiate a complaint or appeal within 30 days of being aware of CGSU’s action or decision. The grievance must be made in writing to the Secretary, who has the authority to dismiss grievances that are not made in accordance with the guidelines. Members are prohibited from initiating state or federal court action regarding a matter covered by the grievance procedure until a final decision and action has been issued by the union, or within four months of the initial filing. The Secretary will work with the grievant(s) and member(s) of the grievance to determine if mediation is appropriate. If mediation is not pursued or fails to result in a written resolution, the grievance shall be presented to the Steering Committee for resolution. The grievant may appeal the decision of the Steering Committee to the union, in which case both the grievance and the Steering Committee’s decision shall be emailed to the membership ahead of a vote for any final action at the next union meeting.
Under the terms of the affiliation agreement, CGSU members are eligible for full-time or part-time paid positions with AFT/NYSUT to work on the organizing campaign. So, member release refer to CGSU members who receive financial compensation from AFT/NYSUT.
The NLRB allows a union to force managment to negotiate a contract covering that union's members in one of three situations. One of these situations is called a recognition election, wherein the union must collect signed statements from 30% of the proposed people for whom the union would like to negotiate, after which an election is held. 50%+1 of those who vote determines whether or not management must recognize that union for contract negotiations.
Strike funds are cash reserves used to support workers while on strike and for other strike-related activities. Strike funds are collected from member dues and replenished when necessary.