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FAQs about Student Unionization

 


Latest FAQs: Last Updated October 23, 2021

October 23, 2021

In recent weeks, The Tech has published student-authored opinion pieces with opposing viewpoints about unionization. How can I determine whether the assertions being made are accurate?
MIT encourages all students to become fully informed before making a decision about whether to support or oppose the unionization effort. You may write to the GSU and to the OVC to ask questions and to seek clarification and context.

We are pleased to see that The Tech has published student-authored opinion pieces and is furthering a dialogue on this important topic:

In the October 21 piece that argues that a union would not benefit students, information about increases in graduate student support are accurate (a summary timeline can be found here). There is, however, one point that isn’t completely accurate. MIT did not cover the legal and tax costs of students working from abroad in Fall 2020. The Institute assisted over 1,300 students with conducting their studies or research abroad, dedicating close to $6 million as well as administrative resources. This support enabled students to advance their research and studies during the pandemic; assisted them in supporting their families and other personal priorities; and addressed compliance requirements. 

In the op-ed that asserts MIT students would benefit from having a union as their exclusive representative, rather than the GSC, the authors provide some inaccurate information. The piece uses financial information (which can be found in the MIT Treasurer’s Report) in a way that is misleading. MIT’s endowment and other assets should not be thought of as a bank account. Rather, they are overwhelmingly investments made to generate ongoing income to operate MIT. Treating these balances like a checking account, as suggested in the article, would jeopardize the Institute’s ability to provide sustainable support for graduate education and many other things.

In addition, counter to the assertions of the article, MIT currently uses a significant portion of the unrestricted income from these investments for graduate student needs. It uses the unrestricted income to subsidize tuition for RA’s, to provide stipends and tuition for TA’s, for some faculty and staff salaries, and to support construction and renovation of research labs, classrooms, and dormitories.

The op-ed supporting a union also does not recognize that our budgeting processes start almost a full year before the funds become available to use. Because of the pandemic, it was prudent for MIT to be conservative in predicting what would happen in Fiscal Year 2021 (starting July 1, 2020). Likewise, the recent endowment gains benefit budgets beginning July 1, 2022.

Finally, it is simply untrue that the announcement of an effort to unionize is the reason MIT increased the salaries of faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students as described in a prior FAQ.

October 15, 2021

Some are questioning the timing of the recently announced 3% stipend increase for graduate students. Did MIT’s leadership make that decision in response to the MIT Graduate Student Union’s (MIT GSU) organizing effort?
No. The October 14, 2021 announcement was the result of extensive planning that first started over the summer when we began to understand what the return might be on our endowment. This happened well before the Institute had knowledge of the MIT GSU’s organizing campaign.

The additional and off-cycle stipend increases are part of a comprehensive approach to capitalize on the exceptionally strong performance of our endowment by investing in key priority areas for MIT, including in members of our community. In addition to graduate students, MIT faculty, staff, and postdocs are also receiving a 3% increase in their compensation and stipends. This increase is to thank our community for its excellent work and dedication—especially during this difficult pandemic period.

October 6, 2021

Where can I find more information about the MIT Graduate Student Union (MIT GSU)?
The MIT GSU website is available here.

I signed a membership/authorization card with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) but have changed my mind. May I revoke my card?

While MIT has no role to play on this issue, we note that any graduate student who signs a membership/authorization card with the UE may request to revoke their card.  Normally, they would be able to do so by sending a signed letter to the UE requesting that their card be revoked.

I’m a graduate student who opposes the unionization effort. What am I allowed to do?
Graduate students who oppose the unionization effort have the same rights as those who support the union, and are entitled to take steps to organize and make their viewpoints heard. For example, consistent with MIT policies, graduate students who oppose the union may set up meetings with other students, create and promote websites explaining their positions, put up posters, hand out leaflets, talk to the press, and generally use all the same communication channels as the union organizers. MIT has published this set of FAQs in order to provide all graduate students with important information about the unionization process. Students might also consider researching graduate student unionization activities at other universities, and the steps taken by students who supported or opposed those unionization efforts.

Will MIT be able to provide any support to graduate students who oppose the unionization effort?
MIT is not permitted to provide support to graduate students who oppose the unionization effort. However, every graduate student has the right to express their views on this topic and is permitted to make their viewpoints heard.

I’ve heard that the UE has taken a position of “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” in connection with the Israel-Palestine conflict. What does this mean and what can I do if I have concerns about this?
The MIT GSU is affiliated with the UE. The UE’s position on BDS is referenced here, and other UE policy stances are available here.  We have received information suggesting that some graduate students are uncomfortable with the UE’s BDS position. MIT has no role in setting the GSU’s or UE’s policies.  We encourage all graduate students to review these policy positions as part of making fully informed decisions about whether to support or join the union. Graduate students with concerns about any UE policy position, and how they might be addressed during any collective bargaining with MIT, may raise those concerns with the UE and with the graduate student organizers.

Will MIT share graduate students’ email addresses or other contact information with the union?
Not unless legally required to do so. MIT respects the privacy of our graduate students and generally does not disclose personal information about them to third parties except with their consent, or to MIT-sanctioned organizations and MIT personnel on a need-to-know basis. Further, many of our graduate students may also be considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and MIT does not provide personal information about employees to organizing unions outside the formal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) process.

However, MIT may be required to provide information about graduate students to the NLRB in response to any Petition for Representation that may be filed.  If this occurs, then the union would have access to the same information MIT provides to the NLRB.


FAQs

1. What is the NLRB?
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a federal agency created to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a federal law to protect the rights of employees and employers. The law protects the rights of employees to choose or reject union representation.

2. What is a union?
A union, or labor organization, is any organization or association of any kind in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers on wages, benefits, hours, grievances or other terms or conditions of employment. A union that represents a majority of employees in an “appropriate bargaining unit” serves as the representative of that bargaining unit on all such matters involving wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. An appropriate bargaining unit is a group of employees who share a clear and identifiable community of interest sufficient to be represented by a union.

A union that has been certified by the NLRB or that has been voluntarily recognized by an employer negotiates a contract (also known as a collective bargaining agreement) on behalf of the bargaining unit to establish the terms and conditions of employment, including such things as wages, hours of work, benefits, and other working conditions. A union also represents its members when disputes arise over the terms of the contract.

3. How is a union selected?
Typically, a group of employees who want a union to represent them will affiliate with an established labor union which will attempt to organize a new chapter of that labor union. In this instance, the MIT Graduate Student Union has chosen to affiliate with the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America. The first step in an organizing campaign is for organizers (who could be students and/or employees of the union) to ask students in a potential bargaining unit to either sign a membership card or an “authorization card.” Either card serves the same purpose of allowing the union to act as their exclusive representative for purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of their roles as TAs or RAs and to allow the union to use the cards to support a showing of interest for purposes of filing with the NLRB. This effort to obtain signed cards is going on now. Based on their website information, it appears that the MIT Graduate Student Union has chosen to use membership cards rather than authorization cards.  The card reads as follows:

Join the Union

I hereby request and accept membership in the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), and authorize it to represent me, and in my behalf to negotiate and conclude all agreements as to hours of labor, wages, and all other conditions of employment.

Thus, if a student signs such a card, they are actually becoming a member of the union and, presumably, subject to whatever rules the UE may have for its members. This does not mean that the Institute must automatically recognize the UE as that particular student’s representative, but it does mean that the student is now a member of the UE.

If the union can collect enough membership cards (or authorization cards) to constitute a valid “showing of interest,” the union can file a “representation petition” with the NLRB requesting a secret-ballot election to determine if the union should be the exclusive representative of a group of employees which the union considers to be an appropriate unit. The NLRB considers 30% of such a proposed unit to be a valid threshold for processing a representation petition. The NLRB will hold hearings, if necessary, to determine whether the union’s proposed unit is appropriate or not.

However, if the union collects signed membership or authorization cards from more than 50% of the members in the petitioned for unit, it might request MIT to voluntarily recognize and bargain with the union without holding an election and providing the members in the proposed unit an opportunity to vote.

4. What are my rights if a union organizer or a fellow student asks me to sign a membership or an authorization card?
It is your decision whether or not you want to sign a membership or an authorization card, and all students have the right to sign, or refuse to sign, without coercion from anyone and without retaliation. The law protects your right not to engage in union activity as well as your right to engage in such activity. Because signing the card has important implications, you should understand the significance of what your signature represents before you sign it.

5. Would all graduate students at MIT be part of a union?
Not necessarily. While all graduate students who provide instructional or research work to MIT for compensation (e.g., RAs/TAs) may be eligible to join a union under current law, the composition of a particular bargaining unit depends on who the union seeks to include in the petition and whether the NLRB finds that the employees in the petitioned unit have enough in common such that they share a “community of interest with each other” (e.g., similar occupations, geographic location, duties, payment structure). While the organizing union first proposes the bargaining unit that it wishes to represent, MIT would have the right to challenge the appropriateness of that unit. Ultimately, if no agreement on the unit can be reached, the NLRB will determine the matter through its adjudicatory process.

6. What is the election process?
The election process is conducted and supervised by representatives of the NLRB. An election is typically held within approximately three weeks after the filing of a representation petition by the union but the timing may differ depending upon how the NLRB treats outstanding bargaining unit issues and how long it takes to resolve those issues. Once an election date is set, secret ballot voting would likely take place on campus in a central location at a designated date and time, or by a mail-in process, as determined by the NLRB.

The election outcome is determined by a simple majority of those who actually vote, not by a majority of those who are eligible to vote. Union representation will be determined by voters, and will be binding on both voters and non-voters who hold positions that are included in the collective bargaining unit.  Therefore, if an election is ever held, it is important that all members of the bargaining unit vote, even if they are not interested in unionization.

Those who sign membership or authorization cards are not obligated to vote in favor of the union during the secret ballot election. Once a petition is filed with the NLRB, and the showing of interest is confirmed, membership or authorization cards usually serve no further purpose, except that in this case the student may still remain a member of the UE.

7. If a union won an election at MIT, would I have to join it?
Whether you have to actually join the union and pay dues or fees depends on subsequent negotiations between the union and MIT. It is typical for a union to request a contract provision requiring everyone in the unit to join the union or pay an agency fee to the union as a condition of employment. A union can negotiate a provision in a collective bargaining agreement that requires non-members to pay an agency fee to the union in order to be able to continue to serve as a graduate TA or RA. The agency fee is usually about the same amount as union dues. If such provisions are negotiated into the contract, then all members of the unit would have to abide by such provisions. Otherwise the union could lawfully insist that the union member be terminated from their bargaining unit position if they do not pay the agency fee.

Regardless of whether you formally join the union, the union would become your exclusive bargaining representative in the event the union were to win an election. Therefore, it is also important to understand that, even if you don’t join the union, the terms of the contract with the union are binding on all employees in the bargaining unit regardless of whether they join the union.

8. What are union dues?
Dues are the cost of membership in a union. They are used to cover the costs of negotiating a contract, contract administration and resolutions of grievances (claims of breach of contract). In addition, unions also use dues for the purpose of organizing employees at other employers and to make political contributions.

9. What would the union dues be at MIT if students voted for a union?
Every union sets its own dues structure. Some do it by setting dues based on fixed amounts per month; others use a percentage of compensation. At New York University, for example, graduate students who are members of the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) pay 2% of their hourly wages during the semesters in which they are employed, and the dues are automatically deducted from every paycheck. In addition to dues, the UAW charges each member an initiation fee of approximately $50. Union dues at Harvard University, where the UAW is the representative of student workers, are 1.44% of all compensation that the graduate student union member receives.

10. If the union should win an election, what would happen next?
MIT would be required to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining representative of all graduate student union members. This would mean, among other things, that the Institute would not be able to work with any other body or organization, including the MIT Graduate Student Council, on matters affecting wages, hours, and working conditions nor could MIT negotiate directly with any member of the unit on any matter affecting wages, hours, and working conditions unless otherwise authorized by the contract.

It also would mean that the parties would have to meet their obligation to negotiate in good faith for that initial collective bargaining agreement.

11. What does the NLRA say regarding negotiations?
Section 8 (d) of the NLRA states:

For the purposes of this section, to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.

12. Is anything required to be in a collective bargaining agreement?
No, the NLRA does not require that any particular right or provision be part of a contract. The law requires good-faith negotiations over mandatory subjects of bargaining. However, the law specifically does not require either party to make a particular concession or to agree to a particular proposal during negotiations.

13. What might be covered in a union contract?
The NLRA requires employers and unions to bargain collectively over “wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” These are called mandatory subjects of bargaining over which the parties must negotiate.  Other topics of interest that do not fall under the umbrella of mandatory negotiations might be addressed by the parties as “permissive” subjects. The NLRB has not yet addressed what “terms and conditions of employment” are for graduate students whose teaching and research is part of their academic training. In a case involving Columbia University graduate students, the NLRB stated that academic decisions remain the prerogative of the university, but what constitutes an academic versus a non-academic decision is not yet clear. There may be many issues of understandable importance to our students that would not be considered mandatory subjects of bargaining under the law. An example would be concerns about student housing.

Some guidance about the terms and conditions that may be addressed in a contract can be gleaned from examining other graduate student contracts. For example, the contract between Harvard and its graduate student teaching and research assistants represented by the UAW covers numerous terms and conditions of employment such as salaries, benefits, working hours, and grievance procedures; nondiscrimination provisions; leaves of absence; job postings; and access to offices. However, many rights are retained by Harvard. In the Management Rights article of the Harvard contract with the UAW, the university retains the exclusive right to determine and control the university’s mission, objectives, priorities, operations, and resources, among many other rights. Harvard also retains the right to control “all matters of academic judgment and decision-making, including ‘who is taught, what is taught, how it is taught and who does the teaching.’” All matters affecting research methodology and materials, and external grants including application, selection, funding, administration, usage, accountability, and termination are retained by Harvard.

14. Can MIT propose its own provisions or changes from the status quo in collective bargaining negotiations?
Yes. Both MIT and the union representatives are free to propose any items or provisions for the contract, including changes from the status quo involving wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

15. How are student interests represented in these negotiations? Will I get input into what should be negotiated into the contract? Who will the leadership of the union be?
It is up to the union to determine who serves in the leadership, who serves on the negotiating team, and how it solicits and/or considers input from its members.

16. If a union wins an election, will my stipend increase? What about benefits?
The law requires negotiations over compensation, i.e. payment for work provided by the union members to MIT.  Stipends that are strictly financial aid support, and not linked to TA or RA roles, would not be subject to collective bargaining. For stipends that are linked to TA or RA roles, and therefore subject to bargaining, there is no guarantee that any union can obtain improvements, as all such matters are subject to negotiations. Benefits are mandatory subjects of bargaining and may or may not change as a result of collective bargaining.

17. Could MIT make exceptions to provisions in the contract to accommodate the needs of individual graduate students?
As a general rule, no. MIT would be bound by the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Unless such exceptions are provided for in the contract or otherwise agreed to by the union, they are not permitted. For example, if a contract set parameters on the work hours for a research assistant, an individual graduate student would not be able to make personal arrangements with their advisor or PI to work outside those parameters, unless the contract provided for exceptions or unless the union agreed to such arrangements.

18. Would a graduate student union at MIT dictate the number of hours I can work as a graduate research assistant in the sciences for positions included in the bargaining unit?
We don’t know. This would first depend on the type of unit that is certified and whether research assistants are included in the unit. For example, research assistants are not included in the bargaining unit at Brandeis University or at NYU. On the other hand, they are included in the Harvard bargaining unit.  If they are included in the unit, then the number of hours of work is subject to bargaining if the graduate student is receiving compensation for such research. Many graduate assistant contracts have detailed workload provisions that include expectations as well as limitations on hours of work.

19. How many graduate student union contracts are there around the country?
There are 42 graduate student contracts according to the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions. The majority are in public universities; there are only eight graduate student union contracts in the private sector, at NYU, Harvard, Tufts University, Brandeis, American University, The New School, Brown University, and Georgetown University.  Columbia did reach an agreement with its graduate student union but it was turned down by the membership and they are currently back at the bargaining table.

20. Are state labor laws different from the NLRA?
Yes.  In many cases, state and federal laws differ significantly when it comes to issues such as bargaining topics, negotiation impasse procedures, the right to strike, and required union membership. For example, strikes are prohibited under most state laws and thus strikes at public universities are rare, but strikes are legal in the private sector. Many state laws also, for example, specify what issues are considered “terms and conditions of employment” and subject to collective bargaining and what issues are “academic” and not subject to collective bargaining.  Federal law is not tailored in that way to address the issues of academic and educational matters related to graduate student activities.

21. What impact could a union have on research activities, such as attendance at conferences, engaging in field work, or research conducted at other activities?
We don’t know. To the extent such activities are part of a research assistantship, funding for attendance at conferences, travel, and other activities could be subject to negotiation with the union.

22. What would happen to the MIT Graduate Student Council if a union was created
With a union created, the MIT Graduate Student Council would no longer be permitted to discuss or negotiate with the administration any issues concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for members of the bargaining unit. Under federal labor law, once a union wins an election, it becomes the exclusive bargaining representative over all terms and conditions of employment.

23. I’ve heard MIT filed an anti-union brief in court a few years ago. What’s the background on that?
In 2016, MIT joined eight other research universities in filing a “friend of the court” brief with the NLRB, asking that the NLRB follow its 2004 decision involving Brown University where it concluded that graduate assistants are students, not employees. MIT joined this brief because the Institute believes that its relationship with its graduate teaching and research assistants is substantially an educational one and that unionization of graduate students may not be the most constructive approach to the multi-faceted relationship between the student and the academy. Overturning its 2004 position, the NLRB ruled that graduate assistants can be both students and employees. While MIT joined this brief with several peer institutions, the Institute accepts and respects the NLRB ruling and fully supports the right of students to make independent decisions on whether to support unionization.

24. Where can I find more information about the MIT Graduate Student Union (MIT GSU)?
The MIT GSU website is available here.

25. I signed a membership/authorization card with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) but have changed my mind. May I revoke my card?
While MIT has no role to play on this issue, we note that any graduate student who signs a membership/authorization card with the UE may request to revoke their card.  Normally, they would be able to do so by sending a signed letter to the UE requesting that their card be revoked.

26. I’m a graduate student who opposes the unionization effort. What am I allowed to do?
Graduate students who oppose the unionization effort have the same rights as those who support the union, and are entitled to take steps to organize and make their viewpoints heard. For example, consistent with MIT policies, graduate students who oppose the union may set up meetings with other students, create and promote websites explaining their positions, put up posters, hand out leaflets, talk to the press, and generally use all the same communication channels as the union organizers. MIT has published this set of FAQs in order to provide all graduate students with important information about the unionization process. Students might also consider researching graduate student unionization activities at other universities, and the steps taken by students who supported or opposed those unionization efforts.

27. Will MIT be able to provide any support to graduate students who oppose the unionization effort?
MIT is not permitted to provide support to graduate students who oppose the unionization effort. However, every graduate student has the right to express their views on this topic and is permitted to make their viewpoints heard.

28. I’ve heard that the UE has taken a position of “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” in connection with the Israel-Palestine conflict. What does this mean and what can I do if I have concerns about this?
The MIT GSU is affiliated with the UE. The UE’s position on BDS is referenced here, and other UE policy stances are available here.  We have received information suggesting that some graduate students are uncomfortable with the UE’s BDS position. MIT has no role in setting the GSU’s or UE’s policies.  We encourage all graduate students to review these policy positions as part of making fully informed decisions about whether to support or join the union. Graduate students with concerns about any UE policy position, and how they might be addressed during any collective bargaining with MIT, may raise those concerns with the UE and with the graduate student organizers.

29. Will MIT share graduate students’ email addresses or other contact information with the union?
Not unless legally required to do so. MIT respects the privacy of our graduate students and generally does not disclose personal information about them to third parties except with their consent, or to MIT-sanctioned organizations and MIT personnel on a need-to-know basis. Further, many of our graduate students may also be considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and MIT does not provide personal information about employees to organizing unions outside the formal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) process.

However, MIT may be required to provide information about graduate students to the NLRB in response to any Petition for Representation that may be filed.  If this occurs, then the union would have access to the same information MIT provides to the NLRB.

30. Some are questioning the timing of the recently announced 3% stipend increase for graduate students. Did MIT’s leadership make that decision in response to the MIT Graduate Student Union’s (MIT GSU) organizing effort?
No. The October 14, 2021 announcement was the result of extensive planning that first started over the summer when we began to understand what the return might be on our endowment. This happened well before the Institute had knowledge of the MIT GSU’s organizing campaign.

The additional and off-cycle stipend increases are part of a comprehensive approach to capitalize on the exceptionally strong performance of our endowment by investing in key priority areas for MIT, including in members of our community. In addition to graduate students, MIT faculty, staff, and postdocs are also receiving a 3% increase in their compensation and stipends. This increase is to thank our community for its excellent work and dedication—especially during this difficult pandemic period.

31. In recent weeks, The Tech has published student-authored opinion pieces with opposing viewpoints about unionization. How can I determine whether the assertions being made are accurate?
MIT encourages all students to become fully informed before making a decision about whether to support or oppose the unionization effort. You may write to the GSU and to the OVC to ask questions and to seek clarification and context.

We are pleased to see that The Tech has published student-authored opinion pieces and is furthering a dialogue on this important topic:

In the October 21 piece that argues that a union would not benefit students, information about increases in graduate student support are accurate (a summary timeline can be found here. There is, however, one point that isn’t completely accurate. MIT did not cover the legal and tax costs of students working from abroad in Fall 2020. The Institute assisted over 1,300 students with conducting their studies or research abroad, dedicating close to $6 million as well as administrative resources. This support enabled students to advance their research and studies during the pandemic; assisted them in supporting their families and other personal priorities; and addressed compliance requirements. 

In the op-ed that asserts MIT students would benefit from having a union as their exclusive representative, rather than the GSC, the authors provide some inaccurate information. The piece uses financial information (which can be found in the MIT Treasurer’s Report) in a way that is misleading. MIT’s endowment and other assets should not be thought of as a bank account. Rather, they are overwhelmingly investments made to generate ongoing income to operate MIT. Treating these balances like a checking account, as suggested in the article, would jeopardize the Institute’s ability to provide sustainable support for graduate education and many other things.

In addition, counter to the assertions of the article, MIT currently uses a significant portion of the unrestricted income from these investments for graduate student needs. It uses the unrestricted income to subsidize tuition for RA’s, to provide stipends and tuition for TA’s, for some faculty and staff salaries, and to support construction and renovation of research labs, classrooms, and dormitories.

The op-ed supporting a union also does not recognize that our budgeting processes start almost a full year before the funds become available to use. Because of the pandemic, it was prudent for MIT to be conservative in predicting what would happen in Fiscal Year 2021 (starting July 1, 2020). Likewise, the recent endowment gains benefit budgets beginning July 1, 2022.

Finally, it is simply untrue that the announcement of an effort to unionize is the reason MIT increased the salaries of faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students as described in a prior FAQ.


Background

Recently, a group of MIT graduate students affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America announced a campaign to unionize MIT’s graduate student population.

MIT’s senior leaders respect the right of graduate students to review their options and make their own individual decisions about what’s best for them in their pursuit of their education.  Like the students launching this effort, MIT’s leadership is committed to advancing a learning and work environment of mutual respect and care. In close collaboration with the Graduate Student Council and other student leaders, the Institute and its schools have taken steps in recent years to invest in our graduate students and to foster positive work, learning, and living experiences during their time on campus.

Many of MIT’s commitments are outlined here: https://commitments.mit.edu/nasem-progress. These commitments include, for example, additional resources and hiring within the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office and the first phase of guaranteed transitional funding for graduate students who need to change research groups or advisors. MIT’s Office of Graduate Education has enhanced financial assistance and grants, including by increasing its commitment to the need-blind Grants for Graduate Students with Children program, raising award levels from $2,000-4,000 to $5,000-7,000. MIT has also increased the monthly stipend ranges for Academic Year 2021-22 by 3.25% exceeding the GSC’s Stipend Working Group estimate of the change in cost-of-living by more than 1%. In addition, AY21-22 medical insurance rates decreased by $180 and housing rates remained flat. More information about MIT’s financial support for graduate students can be found here.  MIT also continues to work to address many of the issues being raised by graduate students in support of action on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are committed to continuing to collaborate and work with all of our graduate students on these important issues.

MIT intends to provide more information regarding the graduate student unionization campaign in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the following frequently asked questions provide answers to questions the community may have in light of the students’ organizing efforts. Students with questions about unions and unionization that are not addressed below may contact ovc@mit.edu.