Dear Graduate Workers,
Yesterday we waited late into the night as the American Arbitration Association (AAA) counted the results of our union recognition election. Unfortunately, the result is still inconclusive. The AAA should make a final determination within the next month.
The results are uncertain because neither side obtained a clear majority, with the number of challenged ballots large enough to determine the election's outcome. Of 1,856 ballots cast, 856 (46.1%) are confirmed votes "yes," 919 (49.5%) are confirmed votes "no," and 81 (4.4%) are either challenged ballots, unresolved marking-related challenges, or absentee ballots that need to be verified.
Although a clear majority of voters didn't vote "yes," we remain proud of what we've accomplished together. In 2002, only 30.0% of us voted "yes" for union recognition. Today, in 2017, we made it right to the precipice. We accomplished this together through passion and hard work. Cornell Graduate Students United was founded by a dozen members in 2014, and now organizes hundreds. Regardless of recognition, we're not going anywhere. Our union is firmly established and will continue to advocate for our basic rights as workers. We'll keep fighting for fairness, respect, and democracy at Cornell University, whether we're at the bargaining table or not.
Though we're proud of our campaign, we can't say the same of Cornell's conduct. The management has treated us with disrespect throughout the campaign. Between months of 'Ask a Dean' and public, unverifiable accusations during the election, the Graduate School has used their position of power as our employer to try and influence results in a way that violates the spirit of our Code of Conduct agreement and has garnered national scrutiny. This confirms the position Cornell took when it signed an amicus brief last year directly opposing our rights as workers. Our hard work in teaching and research produces Cornell's value. We pay taxes on our income, write grants, and sign away intellectual property rights. Cornell doesn't always share our interests, which is why we must keep advocating for them.
Most of all we’d like to say thank you—to all of you—for your support. Over the past three years our movement has collected the ideas and passions of a remarkable portion of Cornell's graduate population and synthesized them into a formidable voice to power. The connections, consciousness, and platform we've built still exist regardless of recognition, and these have power unto themselves. We will continue to fight against the idea that our highly skilled labor is somehow less than work. We will continue to fight for the benefits and respect that match that work. We will continue to fight against the notion that graduate workers are somehow better off apolitical and apart. It's been inspiring to work together so far, and it's not close to over yet.
The coming weeks may hold a lot of uncertainty, but these are things you can be sure of. We've forged bonds that will not so easily be broken.
Yours in solidarity,
Jaron Kent-Dobias, TA and PhD Candidate (Physics)
Paul G. Berry, TA and PhD Candidate (Development Sociology)