Information and procedures for negotiating committee constitutional amendment

Dear CGSU members,

As we’re working hard to do everything we can to vote “yes” & win our union recognition election on March 27 and 28, we’re also thinking about the future. Afterwards, the next step will be forming a negotiating committee to start bargaining with Cornell for improved wages and benefits. (See the CGSU website for election information).

While we move toward negotiations with Cornell, we can clarify from our side the mandate and make up of our negotiating committee and collective bargaining process. Members of the CGSU Legal Affairs Committee have drafted an amendment to this end regarding the creation of a negotiating committee for member consideration, as the CGSU Constitution does not yet have any language to address these issues. All CGSU members are invited to participate in this democratic process by either: i) providing comments and/or suggested improvements to the proposed amendment, or ii) proposing alternative negotiating committee amendments if they wish to do so.  More detailed information can be found in Art. III of the CGSU Constitution and on the Creating Our Negotiating Committee page on our website.

The primary goals of the current proposed amendment are:

  • To outline the composition of the negotiating committee,
  • To ensure that the negotiating committee, which will be comprised of CGSU members, is democratically elected by all members of CGSU,
  • To ensure that all schools and diverse graduate student bodies are represented within the negotiating committee, and
  • To ensure CGSU follows an “open-bargaining” process that promotes the participation of its members--having the right to be informed about and weigh in on the committee’s negotiations with the administration, and attend all negotiation meetings.

As of March 14, 2017, ten percent of the membership of CGSU has participated in the democratic process by signing a petition in favor of bringing this amendment forward for consideration by all members through the constitutional amendment process. Our hope is that this transparency and foresight ensures that our union will continue to embody our democratic principles, defined by the will of our membership, as we move toward negotiating our collective bargaining agreement with the university.  

In accordance with Article III of our Constitution, we are beginning a comment period for the proposed amendment which will allow all members to participate in open dialogue about potential amendments. All CGSU members are invited to provide comments, suggest improvements to the proposed amendment, and propose alternative negotiating committee amendments if they wish. To ensure our organizational resources remain focused on winning an election and to allow for the proposal of other amendments, the comment period will extend beyond the required 14-day minimum to April 24. Following the recognition election and after Spring Break, the Legal Affairs Committee will hold open meetings specifically to discuss all comments and suggestions regarding this proposed amendment, as well as other possible proposals.


3/15 – Comment period begins. All comments and suggestions regarding the proposed amendment should be sent to or can be presented during the open meetings that the Legal Affairs Committee will convene after Spring Break. Alternative amendments are encouraged, and can be proposed with either 10% of current membership support, or asking for direct Steering Committee approval (see Art. III). Please send completed proposal forms and any signatures to the Legal Affairs Committee and the Steering Committee

4/10 – To ensure a parallel discussion of all proposals, we encourage all additional negotiating committee amendments be submitted by this date.

4/24 – Comment period ends.

5/1 – Amendment sponsors finalize language after the deliberation period.  Legal Affairs compiles and circulates a voter guide to the membership based on pro/con statements and other comments received that members would like circulated to the membership to aid in deliberation.

5/3-5 – CGSU members vote in an online referendum.  2/3 of voting majority is required for an amendment to pass.

More detailed information can be found on the Creating Our Negotiating Committee page on the CGSU website, as well as in Art. III of the CGSU Constitution.

In additional union planning news, the CGSU Secretary is currently vacant, and all members are welcome to attend and participate in the election of a new Secretary at our Union’s next General Assembly. Secondly, in April all members will be invited to elect our CGSU Steering Committee (SC) for the 2017-2018 academic year. The first step is to establish an Election Committee.  See Article V of the CGSU Constitution for more detailed information on Steering Committee elections and email the Legal Affairs Committee ( if you are interested in serving on the Election Committee.  

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to contact the Legal Affairs Committee ( and/or Steering Committee ( should you require any assistance or have any questions.


Todd Dickey, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Paul Berry, Communications Committee and Organizing Committee member
Katryn Evinson, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Ben Savitzky, CGSU Member
Matthew Fischer-Daly, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Sena Aydin, Organizing Committee Chair
Marc Kohlbry, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Bret Leraul, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Archishman Raju, Legal Affairs Committee Member