Election FAQ

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Am I eligible to vote?

In short, graduate students who are being paid by Penn to perform research or teaching services during the Spring semester of 2024 will be eligible to vote and should make a plan to do so. First and second year PhDs in BGS, first years PhDs in the SAS Biology department, and anyone else whose sole job designation by Penn is ‘Educational Fellowship Recipient’ are eligible to vote subject to challenge (see the next section for more info on this). Students who are not performing teaching or research service for the university (such as students in the humanities who are solely dissertating) or those pursuing professional (non-PhD or dual MD/VMD-PhD) degrees solely in the Veterinary School, the Dental School, and the Medical School are not eligible to vote.

If you still have questions about your eligibility, please reach out!

What does it mean to vote “subject to challenge”?

This is a legal term for a category of voters whose eligibility is not agreed upon by graduate student workers and Penn management. In plain English, it means we believe you should be included in your own union but Penn’s administration disagrees. Hundreds of student workers on lab rotation have been ruled ineligible at the request of Penn’s lawyers. On April 10, we won an emergency appeal to the National Board of Labor Relations (NLRB) to allow Educational Fellowship Recipients (EFRs) who perform research work to vote in the upcoming election. This is the first step in overturning the exclusion of EFRs and making sure you have a voice in your union. If you want to vote subject to challenge, you are allowed to do so–just tell the NLRB official at your polling location and follow their instructions.

Workers who should vote subject to challenge will be contacted by an organizer in their department with more information.

Are international students eligible to vote?

Yes! Eligibility is based on employment status, not citizenship. If you’re an international student, you are equally eligible to participate in your union election and equally protected by U.S. labor law in doing so. You can and should vote.

What was the information that Penn admin sent out about FERPA?

Employers are legally required to notify their employees about their upcoming union election. They are also legally required to give the NLRB their employment records so that all parties have the list of eligible voters. You aren’t being subpoenaed as a student, your information isn’t being made public, and you don’t need to do anything in response. The university administration is just being asked to do the bare minimum to make sure our election proceeds fairly.

How long will it take to vote?

Our election has been scheduled over two days to make voting as easy as possible. There will be a lot of people voting, so you may need to wait in line. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan to vote now at a time you know you will be free! Sign the pledge to vote “yes” now and make a plan with your coworkers today!

What accessibility accommodations are available at the polling location?

Accessibility information for Houston Hall is available here, and anyone who wishes to request an accommodation to vote in the election should contact the regional NLRB office at (215) 597-7601. You can also reach out to Jacob Glenister at jacobglenister [at] gmail [dot] com for assistance.

Will I need to show an ID?

You won’t need to show an ID to vote. You will be asked to state your name to the NLRB agent overseeing the election in order to receive your ballot. 

Will my advisor/PI/dean know that I have voted or know how I vote?

This is a secret ballot election. There will be no public record of if or how you voted unless you choose to make that information public yourself. When you vote, a representative from the NLRB overseeing the election will ask for your name to make sure you are eligible to vote. 

How can I get involved in helping win our union?

The most important thing you can do is vote. Sign the UNION YES pledge today and let your coworkers know they stand with thousands of other grad students at Penn! You can make a plan with your fellow union organizers to get to the polls on May 1 and 2 and make your voices heard-–get in touch with an organizer in your department to help you get started!