Safe, fair, and transparent working conditions.
Problems such as excessive teaching loads, a lack of paid time off, and unsafe labs prevent us from doing our work to the best of our abilities. A union would allow us to negotiate for clear and fair policies around workload and conditions that would also adapt to our diverse work practices.
Financial security for all.
Many of us face financial precarity, especially in the face of the rapidly rising cost of living. All of us need a wage that supports us to do our best work, and we know Penn can afford it. A union would allow us to bargain for a wage that lets us thrive and is guaranteed to keep pace with rising costs. True financial security for graduate student workers is a necessary step for making Penn a more accessible place to those who have been historically excluded from academia.
Power and protections against harassment and discrimination in our workplace.
Workplace harassment is widespread at Penn and graduate student workers often lack real recourse for mistreatment, or even a clear path out of a harmful environment. We often experience racist and sexist discrimination in our workplace. Other student worker unions have won protections against retaliation; transitional funding to support students who have to change labs; a right to union representation at meetings that could determine employment status; and third-party arbitration to resolve issues of harassment, discrimination, and abuse.
Comprehensive and inclusive healthcare and benefits.
Our healthcare and benefits often fall short of what we really need. Eyes and teeth aren’t luxuries – all student workers at Penn deserve full and comprehensive healthcare, covered upfront. Beyond healthcare, graduate student workers are whole people with whole lives: we experience emergencies, we support our families, and we have futures to plan. We shouldn’t have to choose between living full, joyful lives and completing our degree. With the power of a union, we can negotiate for the kind of comprehensive benefits that would help make academia more inclusive and diverse.
Power, protection, and equality for international student workers.
International graduate student workers face additional costs and burdens associated with relocation, visa applications, and taxes, and are often subject to discrimination and/or heightened exploitation. With a union, we can have more power to negotiate for the support and equality international workers need and deserve. Other student worker unions have won legal aid, paid leave, options for remote work, waived fees, and other forms of support for international workers.
Campus accessibility and disability justice.
Workers with disabilities have been systematically excluded from and marginalized at Penn, with barriers to access in both physical and organizational systems. Having a union will help us stand up for individual accommodations and systemic changes in campus infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, working hours, leave policy, workers compensation, and more. Our organized voices can collectively demand what many of us need right now, and open academia to those currently excluded by a lack of accessibility.
Justice for our neighborhood and city.
Penn is a powerful presence in our city, but contributes no property taxes and has no democratic accountability for its decisions. Along with many Philadelphians, our struggles with housing affordability, transit, safety, and racist policing are effects of an institution that has often failed in its commitment to the well-being of this city. As a union, we can fight for Penn to reflect our values and make Philadelphia better for all of its residents.