Who is forming a union? Who is SEIU?

We are graduate student workers who teach and conduct research at USC. We believe that coming together to form a union with SEIU is the best way for graduate student workers here at USC to improve our working conditions and gain a real voice on campus.

SEIU is the Service Employees International Union, home to approximately 2 million members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU represents more than 130,000 members in public and private higher education in the United States, including non-tenure track faculty at USC.


Are graduate students really workers?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently affirmed our status as workers and decided that we have the right to organize and collectively bargain as employees under federal labor law. Generally, regardless of whether your paycheck comes directly from the University, from an external funding source, or through a faculty member’s grant, the NLRB decision means that we can all come together to form a union at USC.


How does a union work? What have other student workers achieved?

Having a union empowers people to make positive changes in the workplace. Through the power of collective bargaining, graduate workers across the country have won a seat at the table and the right to negotiate with their college and university administrations. Decisions about what to prioritize in collective bargaining are determined democratically and vary between institutions. Common themes include raising minimum stipends, expanding healthcare coverage and family benefits, and defining workload protections.

For example, graduate student workers at NYU recently negotiated a new contract in which they won significant pay increases, free basic dental insurance, enhanced protections against harassment and discrimination, and new funds for childcare and family healthcare.


Can international students become involved in the union?

Graduate student workers at private universities have the right to organize and collectively bargain regardless of their immigration status. International graduate student workers have played a central role in organizing graduate student unions across the country. If you want to connect with another international graduate students involved with the campaign, please contact us.



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USC Forward is a coalition of students, faculty, alumni, and community fighting for a better USC.

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