The last few days have brought some major news and changes for our upcoming election. The good news is that Educational Fellowship Recipients (EFRs) who are currently working as researchers have won the right to vote in next week’s election! The bad news is that Penn attempted to use this victory as an opportunity to delay our election for months, and we’ve had to push it back to the new dates of May 1 and 2.

When Penn grad workers’ vote was initially scheduled, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) initially sided with management and determined that some of the workers that Penn classifies as EFRs wouldn’t be eligible to vote in this election. We know that all workers at Penn deserve rights and protections in the workplace. However, management has shown time and time again, through delays and attempts to exclude workers from voting, that they don’t share our commitment to a democratic workplace. This is just another bid to divide us.

Shortly after the decision was handed down, we filed an emergency appeal that would allow EFRs who work as researchers and teaching assistants to vote in this upcoming election. We’re happy to say that, on April 10, Penn grad workers won our appeal, allowing EFRs currently providing research or teaching services to Penn the right to cast ballots to win our union. This decision is a big step towards ensuring the inclusion of all Penn graduate student teaching and research employees in our union.

This means that the following graduate workers should go to the polls and cast a vote:

  • BGS 1st and 2nd year grad student researchers
  • Biology 1st year grad student researchers
  • Graduate student researchers in other departments categorized as EFRs
  • Graduate students categorized as EFRs currently teaching in other departments

Per the NLRB’s ruling, these graduate workers can and should vote, but their vote will be cast “subject to challenge.” This just means that their ballots will be separated from those on the university’s initial voter list and the question of their inclusion in the bargaining unit will be considered after the election. For more information on voting procedure, check out our Election FAQ page.

Disappointingly, Penn admin used this legal victory as an excuse to delay our vote. Management even went so far as to suggest that our election should be moved to November (see our previous update for more info). But we’re happy to say that on April 11, after showing admin’s claims to be demonstrably false, we came to an agreement to hold our vote on campus in just a few weeks. In the face of this attempt to slow our momentum, we held firm to our commitment to have a union election this semester. Penn grad workers will now vote:

Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 & Thursday, May 2, 2024
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Bodek Lounge in Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St, Philadelphia PA

In order to push past Penn’s excuses and delays, and win the contract we deserve, we need to reaffirm our commitment to vote in the election and encourage even more grad workers to do so. If you haven’t signed the UNION YES pledge yet, pledge to show intent to vote “yes” on election day. And make a plan to vote with you and your coworkers on May 1 and 2!