Emily Cribas

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

A union creates a shared sense of community and deeper understanding among grad workers (and broadly workers!) all across Penn that serve as a prerequisite for any sustainable, effective, and inclusive change. Who knows what we need to flourish in our work better than us?

Jenny Lee


As a medically disabled person, I’ve been forced to choose between my health and my employment. A union contract could make it so that disabled workers don’t have to fear losing their health insurance, their stipends, or their position within their departments in order to care for themselves. More importantly, collective bargaining can ensure that this ethic of care extends to our greater Philadelphia community. A union gives us the power to fight against Penn’s racializing displacement and advocate for racial justice and equity.

Nikhil Dharan

History and Sociology of Science

The one constant as a graduate student has been unpredictability. Rather than having to weather these changes on our own, a union would allow us to address challenges together and with a collective voice. Supporting a union means supporting each other as workers and as people.

Lolo Serrano

History, Law

Being a part of GET-UP has allowed me to learn from my colleagues about inequities at Penn and the immeasurable value of coming together as workers across departments and schools to share experiences, discover commonalities, and plan for a better shared future. Current avenues for worker input into pay, conditions, benefits, and job expectations at Penn are woefully insufficient, and we can’t push for satisfactory changes unless we can leverage some real power as workers. We are part of a growing movement of workers within and without academia, locally and nationally, fighting for the power we deserve.

Hilah Kohen

Comp Lit

So many issues, like compensation and recourse from abuses of power, are make-or-break for our work. Because these issues are decided from the top without our input, we have no real say into when they are given, taken away, or allowed to fall victim to external factors like inflation. What has pushed the university to make improvements is the pressure of unionization at Penn and around the country. Finishing the job will enable us to turn what we know about our needs and working conditions into a better, healthier university for all of us.

Michael Scaglione


Simply put, graduate trainees at Penn work hard. We know our institution and society benefits greatly from our contributions, but what about building a system to advocate for ourselves? We all have friends who knowingly work in unsafe, unfair, or under-rewarded conditions and haven’t acted yet for fear of losing “productivity” — at the same time, other grad programs that have unionized across the US are already getting real results! I’m hoping a union will give all of us a way to make our voices heard and show other graduate students around the country that their efforts matter too!

Austin King

CAMB – Genetics and Epigenetics

A union contract would address student concerns directly instead of depending on the decisions of administrators multiple times removed from our jobs. We know what we need to do our jobs safely and effectively so we should decide for ourselves.

Thomas Collins


We shouldn’t have to wonder whether the administration will act in our interest. We know what we need, and as a union, we can make decisions that will help us improve our working conditions.

Julia Flores

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

I am in one of the highest paid programs at Penn. I have no loans from undergrad, no loved ones that I help support financially, no chronic medical conditions. And yet, I still struggle to pay my bills every month and inflation is only getting worse. Having a union would mean financial security for me and my coworkers at Penn who are in much more vulnerable positions.

Jeffrey McNeil


Whether you have issues in the workplace or not, we work in a system where student workers have very little power. I support the union’s mission to advocate for more fair treatment of graduate students and more mechanisms by which important issues can be address.

Ariel Hippen

Genomics & Computational Biology

For grad students, working conditions here at Penn are often a case of advisor roulette or program roulette. Having the power of collective organizing to fight for our interests will also help protect us from retaliation from an advisor or a program.

Isabel Yannatos


Having a union would even out the power imbalance between PhD students and their advisors. Too often students are completely reliant on one faculty member and feel trapped in a bad situation. Everyone should have the support they need to succeed.

Max Pisciotta

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Having a union provides us, as workers, the agency to advocate for our working conditions. Being part of the conversation allows us to make our interests and needs known rather than being at the will of administrators to create structures that serve us.

Carter Merenstein

Genomics & Computational Biology

Having a union would give me and my fellow employees leverage to advocate for our own needs, instead of being dependent on our PIs and the administration to hand out benefits. For me, dental insurance has been the perfect example of this, because every year we have to wait to see if they’re going to reimburse it or not. I want to be able to negotiate for benefits that are clear and can’t be changed.

Emily Aunins

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

Academic workers are the backbone of Penn, and we deserve a seat at the table when it comes to discussions of our compensation, medical coverage, and resources. I want my coworkers and I to have the power to demand the treatment from the university that we deserve.

Kyla Mace


When the pandemic hit my first year, I felt pressure to return to in-person labwork before I felt it was safe. I wished I had a real say in our university’s masking and testing policies, since those decisions directly impacted my safety at work. With a union, we would have had the power to demand a seat at the table where those decisions were made. By organizing with our coworkers now, we can ensure we always have an equal say in the conditions of our work, in times both normal and unprecedented.

Mike Gadomski


A union is the only chance we have to exercise meaningful control over our working conditions. When things as basic as a living wage are at stake, we can’t afford to rely solely on the good will of the university.

Rebecca Fishman

Physics and Astronomy

A union not only advocates for fair pay and good working conditions for graduate students, it can also provide support and advocacy for individuals who encounter harassment or discrimination. Grad students deserve and need protections that go beyond the whims of their advisor or the self-interested decisions of administrators.

Brendan Mahoney


I support a union because I care about the community and friendships I’ve built with my fellow student workers, and I want us to have the power to make our lives at Penn better. We all deserve support in our interactions with our advisors, our departments, and our PIs, particularly students who are already dealing with issues related to immigrating to the US or supporting a family. A union means a democratic workplace, which means all our voices and all our issues must be heard.

Alice Sukhina

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

As a Ukrainian student, during the time of my biggest need, I had to pick up a second job to afford moving my family to safety. When I asked Penn for financial and legal support after countless emails from admins sending “thoughts and prayers”, I was told by the same administrators that it is “too pricey” for them to set up a hardship fund for international students or to have a lawyer stop by campus to give us legal advice. I had to rely on a second poorly paying job and good grace of individual faculty to assure safety of my family and friends. I will no longer stand by as international students are left as an after thought at Penn. We are what makes this campus move. So, I am no longer asking for help, I am demanding justice for all international students by strongly supporting unionization.

Claire Woodward

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

A union will provide students a voice regarding the working conditions and policies that govern our daily lives. Although my graduate group and lab are generally safe, inclusive, fair, and welcoming environments, I know this is not the case for every graduate student at Penn. Furthermore, a union will help safeguard the positive aspects of my current experience such that they do not rely on the ideals of current department leaders and administrators, but are instead the result of a democratic system by which we as students guarantee our own rights and benefits.

Isabelle Ament


As a graduate student without centralized advising and support, I am often on my own when it comes to navigating my PI, department, and degree. With a Union, I don’t need to tackle these issues alone.

Walker Gosrich

Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

A union will help secure better protections for students when conflicts with supervisors arise, improve transparency with administration, and give teeth to improvement requests students have been making for years.

Janessa Reeves

AAMW/Ancient History/Classics/NELC

It is important to show support for each other as student workers. In an institution as large as Penn, sharing our power to advocate for each other will improve everyone’s working conditions.

Jordan Williams


Penn’s self-appointed status as the “Cellicon Valley” was built on graduate student labor, yet our stipend has not kept up with the cost of inflation or the worth of our collective skills and talents. I support a graduate union because a union would ensure us a seat at the table with the administrators, giving us a democratic say in stipend amounts, working conditions, and other matters important to us.

Sam Schirvar

History and Sociology of Science

Graduate workers do the teaching and research necessary to run Penn. We should be able to negotiate over the conditions of our work. As a TA, I’ve often felt that the flexibility of my work schedule has been taken for granted. With a union, we would negotiate over work standards to ensure a stable and supportive learning environment for TAs/instructors and our students.

Eileen Ying


Having a union would help us secure basic improvements for graduate students – higher pay, better healthcare, full vision and dental coverage. It would also allow us to build collective power against an enormous gentrifying force in the city. It’s important to me that we fight for both better working conditions and a better university as a whole.

Paul Sindberg


Law students are workers, too. I pay my rent with my TA wages. I think the administration still conceptualizes RA/TA positions as optional honors for law students, but in reality, our work is what keeps classes running. I want a union contract so I can protect what I like about working with professors, and so I can fight for the wages that my colleagues and I deserve.

Alexis Scott

CAMB – Cancer Biology

Having a union would give graduate workers more power to address issues in the workplace. As it currently stands, graduate student workers can only hope that administration will take our concerns seriously. A union puts greater support in your corner to secure positive working conditions.

Brandon Harrison

Education Policy

A graduate student union means that we are not reliant on the generosity of the university for better pay and working conditions. Amidst rising costs of living and inconsistent work standards, graduate students deserve a seat at the table. We all want Penn to be an excellent university, and unionizing is an important step in that direction.

Tess Bernhard

Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education

I want a union because getting a doctorate at Penn should be less of a precarity. Our degrees should be more accessible to all, not just those able to commit to financial insecurity for the better part of a decade. Our current contracts fall short of the average years to completion and leave many out to dry for the summer. The graduate workers who keep this university running do not deserve to be left guessing where their next month of pay is coming from.

Luella Allen-Waller


Every year, Penn student workers waste valuable research time advocating at the individual or department level for small concessions, like stipend increases that haven’t even kept up with inflation. A union for all student workers will increase university transparency and guarantee we all get a say in Penn’s decisions about our working conditions.

Sam Samore


Over the past couple years, Penn’s health insurance coverage for gender affirming treatment has improved, but it still does not cover a lot of important forms of treatment. A union could help us protect the improvements that we have already won and also secure more comprehensive coverage for transgender student workers. This issue is personally important to me, and is one of many reasons why I support unionizing!

Taylor Miller-Ensminger

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

I believe having a union would improve the lives and working conditions of Penn graduate students in my cohort and future cohorts to come. Together, I believe we can address issues such as transportation, salary increases to match inflation, and childcare.

Henry Shulevitz

Electrical and Systems Engineering

I want to stand with my fellow graduate workers for a better Penn. I know that higher wages, better benefits, and fairer treatment is possible but only if we work together for it.

Amy Campbell

Genomics & Computational Biology

When I took family medical leave to care for a parent in hospice, I lost my health insurance as a result. Medical and family leave policies vary over time and between departments: as student workers, we deserve to know that we won’t lose access to basic benefits when we take time for our own health, the health of a family member, or the birth/adoption of a child. I want a union contract that guarantees this.

Molly leech


I believe it is critical for graduate workers to have a platform for collective bargaining which would give us legally sanctioned rights and help us improve working conditions across campus. The University of Pennsylvania lags behind other Ivy League Universities which have already unionized–including Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, and Yale– it’s time for us to join them.

Ethan Blackwood


If Penn is truly driven by “the impetus to create new knowledge to the benefit of individuals and communities around the world,” it has a duty to recruit students from diverse communities to its advanced degree programs and ensure that each of them has a fair chance at success. By giving students bargaining power with the university, GET-UP will ensure that barriers to this ideal of equal access are not allowed to persist, and in doing so, actually help Penn fulfill its mission.

Samantha Fritz


I want things to be better for all of us, and forming a union gives us the power to make things better for ourselves. The union gives us the ability to work together to improve our experiences at Penn.

Sam Franz

History and Sociology of Science

Having a union would allow the voices of graduate workers to be heard at Penn. From work expectations to individual stipends, I’m confident that collective bargaining will bring democracy to an otherwise one-sided conversation.

Jack Thornton


An organized, strong union will put real power in the hands of graduate workers.

Taylor Senay

CAMB – Microbiology, Virology, and Parasitology

Having a union will empower workers at Penn to speak and be listened to, allowing us to fix broken policies and preserve those that work. As a union, we can speak as one loud, clear voice, instead of thousands of individual whispers.

Victor Acero


As graduate workers, we deserve the right to collectively bargain with the University to secure better conditions, greater financial security, vacation time, and health care. A Union means we don’t have to kindly beg for what we deserve – we can demand it and bargain for it.

Parisa Samareh

Genomics & Computational Biology

The work environment of graduate students is an inherently competitive and stressful place. Having a union to hold the administration accountable for how we are treated and fairly compensated is necessary to make Penn a healthy and productive place of work.

Meredith Hacking

Germanic Languages and Literature

The work we do as graduate students is just that – work that must institutionally be recognized as such! We deserve basic safety protections, access to parental leave, and other basic rights that guarantee us the ability to do our work without impoverishing ourselves or our mental and emotional energy.

Natalia Reyes


As a grad student with a dependent, I worry about my family’s healthcare costs. Having experienced vastly superior (and more affordable!) healthcare at my previous, unionized graduate institution, I find the exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for dependent coverage at Penn unconscioniable. We need a union to negotiate on grad workers’ behalf so that grads are not taking on additional work to pay for costly dependent coverage.

Miranda Sklaroff

Political Science

I am fighting for a union because I believe our protections from harassment, retaliation, and abuse of all kinds are best guaranteed through a ratified contract. I also want to see major improvement in childcare and parental leave policies, and a union is the best avenue for helping grad worker parents.

Paige Pendarvis


As individual graduate students across the university, we have little power to shape the conditions under which we work. Though the work we perform in our labs, classrooms, and departments differs in content, we all remain at the mercy of university administrators, department chairs, and PIs. We would all benefit from a more democratic workplace. A union would represent grad students’ collective interests and give us a permanent seat at the table to determine the conditions under which we research and teach. Only a union can ensure that Penn lives up to its claim that it “values graduate students.”

Clancy Murray

Political Science

In my position as a TA I’m responsible for too many students to be able to give each of them the attention they need and deserve in order to succeed at Penn. Improving my working conditions with the power of a union would also improve my students’ learning conditions.

Gregory M. Campbell

Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

I’m currently content in my working conditions, but I have no delusions about what Penn would choose between my needs and their own financial success. A union is not only a show of solidarity with all the students experiencing hardships, but security that we can maintain fundamental rights and compensation.

Delaney Wilde


My undergrad institution had a very strong union and now I feel vulnerable without one. While I have good working conditions and decent benefits, I know that is not the case for all students, and I know the benefits I do have are all subjective to change at the university’s whim. A union would help make conditions and benefits better and more equitable for all students, and a contract would also protect against changes to these conditions.

Ayesha Sheth

South Asia Studies

As an international student, the last few years have exemplified how precarious our position can be in a foreign country. It was exhausting and near-impossible to juggle housing, funding and visa/immigration uncertainties all at the same time. Knowing that a union will have my back is the only way I can give a hundred percent to the academic demands of grad school!

Rae Herman


In conversations with my co-workers at Penn, I’ve heard so many exciting ideas that would ensure that graduate workers can live without worrying about money and that would increase the equity and justice in our community. Collective action is the only way that we can build real power to implement these changes through a clear, legally binding contract. We already know what we need, we just need to organize to make it happen!

Isabella Higgins


A union creates a community amongst graduate student workers. As a community we must advocate for everyone’s needs whether it’s health care, livable wages, international student support etc. We all deserve the help and support that is needed for us to be productive and happy. A union can ensure our needs are met as a community and advocate for our fellow coworkers. It is time for Penn graduate students to join this movement.

Florence Madenga


When decisions are being made in the workplace, a union allows for the people those decisions affect the most to have a voice. Being a graduate student facing various challenges may feel lonely, precarious and alienating, but collective action and community through unionizing gives us an avenue to address those issues in solidarity.

Gianna Perez


As a graduate student researcher and a student organization leader, I see first hand all of the work that graduate students at Penn do to build successful programs. We are workers that deserve dignity, respect, and fair pay; a union will help us secure that.

Benji Lunday

Physics and Astronomy

To me, a union means future security and meaningful trust in my role as a graduate student at the university. I can’t put forth my best research effort if I’m constantly worrying and planning for the future where my university insurance doesn’t provide the coverage I need, and having a union means putting those fears to rest as I know my voice will be heard.

Alex Millen


When it comes to grievance mechanisms, adequate pay, and democracy in the workplace, Graduate Student Workers should not have to rely on the good graces of our employer.

Ailin Jain


Institutional goodwill always runs out. Unionizing will secure us a say in our working conditions.

Juliet Glazer

Music and Anthropology

As a grad worker at Penn, I’ve learned that funding to complete the degree program can come at the discretion of departments and higher up administrators, without any guarantees. This means we all work under unnecessary conditions of precarity. A union would enable us to advocate together for fair compensation that supports our learning, teaching, and communities within and beyond Penn.

Rupa Khanal


From my perspective as an international student, I strongly believe that unions can play a crucial role in addressing the unique challenges that we face. By banding together and advocating for our collective interests, we can work towards creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for ourselves and for those who will come after us. I believe this can offer a platform for our voices to be heard and our concerns to be addressed.

Anne-Marie Zaccarin

Electrical and Systems Engineering

Being active in GET-UP has shown me just how much the interests of all student workers, regardless of the degree being pursued or the area of study, align. We are united in our precariousness in the face of rising rents, a cost of living crisis and our lack of comprehensive healthcare coverage. Together, we can obtain essential improvements to our working conditions. Better wages, more support for international students and better protection against unfair workloads are all possible through collective bargaining.

Lauren Perry

Philosophy and Law

My last institution had a union, and our union contract ensured we received fair wages, fair working hours, a process for reporting unsafe working conditions, healthcare (including vision and dental), a childcare fund, and financial support for international students. Union contracts improve our day-to-day lives by giving us more time and money to pursue our own ends. Collectively organizing is the best (and only) way to ensure we have power over working conditions, and this gives us back more power over the rest of our lives outside of work.

Roopa Vasudevan


So often as grad students, we are positioned as being “in training” when we are really doing so much of the labor that makes the university run. Without us, things would really grind to a halt. A union recognizes the essential role that grad students play in day-to-day workings at Penn, and gives us a way to ensure that we are treated fairly as a result.

Adam Alfieri

Electrical and Systems Engineering

I think we are generally treated well, but our health insurance is horrible for anything beyond routine primary care. This means we lack true financial security as one accident could lead to significant medical debt (to the hospital operated by our employer nonetheless). A union would give us power in determining our own working conditions and benefits.

Vanessa B. Sanchez


I constantly worry about my finances and all of the debt I’ve accumulated since coming to Penn. This, as well as working 7 days a week, makes it extremely hard to visit family across the country which can become isolating and lonely. A union will ensure fair pay, as well as (hopefully) relieve the financial burden of many grad student workers, like myself. In solidarity!

Diami Virgilio


During the pandemic, I saw firsthand how crucial it was for us to come together to collectively advocate for what we needed to get through the most difficult times. At scale, with all students standing together, we can guarantee that student workers aren’t being exploited and are having their basic needs met while working to become the scholars of tomorrow.

Kirby Sokolow

Religious Studies

When I developed a chronic, disabling illness two years ago, there was no transparency around whether I could retain my Penn-funded health insurance if I took medical leave. Against my better judgment, I chose to push through and not take leave because of the uncertainty—I couldn’t afford the possibility that I’d lose my coverage. While Penn introduced a “pilot program” this year that allows students to retain Penn-funded health insurance during 1 semester of medical leave, uncertainty remains. By joining together as a union, we can work collectively to ensure better, more transparent health care policies for us all, as well as a more inclusive and accessible campus where disabled and chronically ill students thrive.

Kinjal Dave


After four years of graduate school, I have found the most accessible and sustainable form of medical care for me has been through medical tourism to India – from basic vision and dental, to when I needed a specialist for an acute chronic issue. I need a union to advocate for improved health insurance and basic access to care. I need a union to advocate to remove the draconian policy that, as graduate students, we lose our health insurance if we go on medical leave.

Sara Purinton


Joining a union is one of the key ways that we as graduate students can ensure enduring representation and a seat at the table. We can do more as a united group than we can as separate actors!

Kathryn O'Neill

Sociology and Demography

When interacting with a powerful institution, I would like to have my peers organized with me on my side. Every other university I have been at has a graduate student union and I think that it is past time that UPenn does! And, as a Sociologist, I am engaged with research about the broader connection between union strength and worker wellbeing, poverty, and income inequality. Working in unionized jobs over a lifetime is associated with a host of positive outcomes. I think this is an investment in ourselves and future generations of grad students that is well worth it!

Jalen Chang

History of Art

As graduate students, we’re caught in a strange labor position with undeniable advantages that can be used to paper over exploitative work situations. Unionizing allows us to stand behind and support those of us for whom the latter outweighs the former, and helps contribute to a more equitable academia.

Antoine Haywood


As a graduate student who is a parent, I need help supporting my family. Having a union helps us create new and improve existing resources that support students with dependent care responsibilities.

Sarah Applebey


As academia becomes increasingly competitive and requires additional pre-graduate experience, many graduate workers begin school in their mid-20s. I find that our student health/dental insurance has not kept up with this demographic change and does not meet the needs of an adult. I have delayed removing my wisdom teeth to avoid medical debt, and as a woman in science, the lack of family planning/fertility preservation coverage is a significant concern. A union would allow us to negotiate health insurance that meets our needs as adult workers.

Chloe Leblanc

Electrical and Systems Engineering

I believe we need a union for all students to communicate their needs and concerns to the university. The graduate experience encompasses more than just research, and many issues that arise are beyond our own labs and research groups. A union could be a platform for everyone.

Sarah Ferrigno


I knew before applying that completing my doctorate would be my greatest academic challenge. However, I did not anticipate spending every day (including weekends) in the lab for seasons at a time in order to obtain the data required for me to one day graduate. Before applying, I was under the impression that my role would be as a student, here to learn from experts. However, I did not anticipate that these experts would be too overworked themselves to dedicate the proper time to teach me. That the expectation is to largely teach yourself whatever you need to learn. At Penn, research is the primary objective. We are being paid to produce data for the university. Whatever learning that happens to accompany this is secondary. Our title as “student” only serves them when convenient. We are “students” so that we can be underpaid for a contract with no set end date.

M.C. Overholt


As a PhD in Architecture History & Theory at Weitzman School of Design, I have to teach every semester (sometimes in two classes) to make up for the very low stipend amount that only lasts four years. Having a union would help myself and my colleagues bargain for another year or two in our PhD stipend contract, as well as a higher annual stipend amount. We chose to come to Penn because of the excellence of the student research it supports. Now we are asking Penn to make good on its promises: value PhD students & their research through better compensation!

Nursyazwani Jamaludin


Academic workers include us graduate students, and as precarious folks who may be subjected to abuse of all kinds in academia, as well as having to support our own lives and living conditions, we need a union. As an international student, being subjected to additional taxes for grants (including conference, summer field funds), having to pay visa / immigration fees, flight tickets, as well as relocation fees can take a toll on our budget, requiring us to draw on external sources for funding. I stand in solidarity with all graduate students – domestic and international, to have their rights supported and addressed, whether in terms of childcare, rising costs of living / inflation, costs of relocation and visa / immigration, research and so much more. Let’s organize as a collective to address these issues and protect our rights. Solidarity!

Lucila Rozas


As an international student-worker at Penn, my situation is very precarious and I am fully economically dependent on the stipend I receive from the University every month. With the recession and the increasingly precarious living conditions in the US, especially for non-unionized workers, people in a similar situation as mine are facing a lot of financial problems because our visa situation restricts the possibility to obtain income from other sources (which, with a decent wage, we shouldn’t be in need for). This is particularly pressing if they have previously acquired debt or have dependents they need to take care of. I firmly believe that a union contract would provide a more solid ground to negotiate decent wages for everyone that reflect the current economic situation, and that can provide more financial security, especially for those of us whose only source of income is our jobs at Penn.