PHILADELPHIA, PA – 17 Jun, 2017 – No Penn Union (NPU), a grassroots organization of graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, has formed to oppose the efforts of GET-UP PENN and the American Federation of Teachers to unionize the graduate students at UPenn. NPU also announced that it has secured legal representation from labor attorney Wally Zimolong to assist them in the efforts. Since April, NPU’s electronic petition against unionization has received signatures from over 500 Penn PhD students, including greater than 50% of those enrolled in the Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) program. With the recent National Labor Relations Board ruling that graduate students are employees, grassroots movements against the unionization of graduate students have defeated unionization at several universities, including Duke University.
Laura Bryant, one of the organizers within NPU states, “I want to protect the freedoms I have as an academic and believe a union will ultimately harm students – it would add layers of bureaucracy we don’t need or want. Each school at Penn has a large amount of autonomy and the students in each school have very different needs. The students in BGS have shown that they do not want to be represented by GET-UP, but the union will not listen to us. At the end of the day, we realized that neither the NLRB nor Penn would represent our wishes as individual employees – we wanted a voice at the table, so we got a lawyer.”
Bryant is one of a core group of students who have run an active campaign against unionization at Penn since March. The group has worked tirelessly to inform students about the harms of a student union, including concerns that the quality of research and education will decline as a result of funding reallocation and union insertion into academic matters. They also critique the lack of transparency and information in the prounion group’s campaign. NPU believes Penn has provided exceptional benefits for fulltime PhD students. In BGS, students get tuition, health insurance, 8weeks paid maternity leave, free gym membership and a $31.5K stipend with ~2% annual increase.
NPU believes unionization would come at a high cost, including loss of academic freedom, mandatory dues, threats of internal discipline, and oversight by a national union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
No Penn Union is not the only student group fighting unwanted unionization in higher education. Similar groups exist in other prestigious universities including Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Yale, Princeton and the University of Chicago.
Learn more about No Penn Union’s factbased campaign at nopennunion.org, visit their facebook https://www.facebook.com/NoPennUnion/ or follow their twitter feed @nopennunion
Company Name: Zimolong LLC
Contact Person: Walter S Zimolong
Country: United States