Your elected Bargaining Committee is hard at work negotiating for a strong first contract! See our bargaining updates:

2024-04-01: Fighting to grieve discrimination and harassment and Bargaining Committee special elections

We need Stanford to make serious concessions on Grievance Procedure, Discipline and Discharge, Appointment Notification, Non-Discrimination, and Inclusive Work Environment. Also, we will hold elections to fill open Bargaining Committee seats in Applied Physics, Humanities, and Material Sciences.


Dear Stanford Graduate Workers,

Despite two intensive 8-hour bargaining sessions last week, Stanford has not made enough movement for us to reach tentative agreements on Grievance Procedure, Appointment Security, and Discipline/Discharge. These three articles are critically important for our long-term job security because they address how members can file a grievance, ensure we have a job in situations of precarity, and protect us from arbitrary termination or discipline.

The University also returned, for a second time, their proposal on contract language over Non-Discrimination. Once again, it excludes our proposal for workers to have access to an independent arbitrator in cases of discrimination and harassment.

Why is it so important for discrimination and harassment to be covered by our union grievance procedure? In other words, why is Stanford fighting us so hard on this article?

Currently, graduate students only have access to institutional grievance procedures in certain cases, such as sexual or gender-based harassment and discrimination (known as Title IX). As workers, we can also access the University’s employment procedures for investigating other forms of harassment and discrimination (Admin Guide 1.7.4), but there are many reasons why that isn’t enough to protect us in such circumstances.

Here’s why discrimination and harassment should be covered by our union grievance procedure instead:

  1. It protects graduate workers by granting recourse to an independent arbitrator, rather than Stanford’s failed process.
  2. It guarantees strict timelines: Under Stanford’s Admin Guide, the suggested time just to investigate a complaint would be 90 days. Under our union grievance procedure, it would take 70 days maximum to bring the complaint to an independent arbitrator.
  3. It goes beyond Title IX by providing recourse for harassment that isn’t based on sex or gender.
  4. It goes beyond protected categories by providing recourse for any and all harassment, bullying, and abuse of power.
  5. It prioritizes protection over punishment by obtaining accommodations for grad workers whose ability to work is being impeded by harassment, power abuse,or discrimination.
  6. It codifies graduate workers’ right to a union representative in grievance proceedings.
  7. It places additional pressure on the University to act when faced with a complaint over harassment or discrimination that may come before an independent arbitrator.

Discrimination and harassment are not a superficial concern that affects a minority of Stanford’s graduate workers. They could affect you at any point in time during your career. That’s why we need the power to file a union-backed grievance over discrimination, power abuse or harassment–at the hands of one’s co-workers, advisors, PIs, or faculty.

We already know that Stanford’s existing procedures can’t and don’t protect us–see Stanford’s own IDEAL campus survey results–and that’s why we need this clause to protect all graduate workers.

We also have a bargaining win to share: Stanford agreed to contract language that prevents your advisor from making you do inappropriate work (e.g., running personal errands)..

Additionally, SGWU will be holding elections to fill Bargaining Committee seats in Applied Physics, Humanities, and Materials Sciences. SGWU members from these departments will be eligible to run and vote. Workers in those departments will be sent an email with more details. We will solicit candidates from the relevant departments between April 1 and April 5. Please indicate your interest in running by April 5. We will begin elections on the following Monday, April 8. The voting period will run until April 12. Further details about this election will be included in future correspondence.

In Solidarity, SGWU BC.



2024-03-08: Small Wins, Big Progress + Int'l Grad Worker's Needs

Let’s keep up the bargaining momentum! We reached a TA (tentative agreement) on appointment postings. In today’s update, we’re putting Stanford in the hot seat over international workers’ rights.


Fellow Grad Workers,

In our last update, we described Stanford’s varied tactics for slowing down bargaining. After publicly holding Stanford accountable, we are finally starting to see greater movement at the table at our last two bargaining sessions. We credit this movement at the table to the FAM, the CAT (Contract Action Team), and the organizational structure and strength that’s grown over the last two months. In light of this momentum with Stanford, we’re pushing for tentative agreements on key articles in the coming sessions, like Grievance Procedure, Discipline and Discharge, and Appointment Notification.

Our first recent win is reaching a tentative agreement (TA) on our Appointment Posting article (Article 17). This agreement requires Stanford to post any open teaching and research assistantships each quarter on a centralized website accessible to all Graduate Workers. While Graduate Workers in a given department may receive priority for these appointments, any worker who meets the requirements for the position can apply.

Our second win is a commitment from Stanford to incorporate progressive discipline into the contract. Progressive discipline means graduate workers 1) have the right to be notified of misconduct or performance issues before they lead to discipline and 2) any punishment taken must match the severity of the offense. Winning progressive discipline is vital for our job security because it protects workers from being fired for minor mistakes such as showing up late to meetings, which could be used as a way to retaliate against workers.

We need to build on this momentum to obtain key concessions for international workers. Of our five core issues, this week Stanford provided a counter-proposal on international workers. But there are still significant disparities between what Stanford is currently offering and what international graduate workers need. Stanford must ensure Bechtel adheres to reasonable and reliable timelines for providing assistance to international graduate workers. This is necessary to protect us from issues like unreasonable delays in obtaining immigration documentation or information. Moreover, Stanford cut our proposal for all international graduate workers to have equitable access to CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training). If your experiences with Bechtel or your department have affected your work and life at Stanford, let us know here.

In Solidarity,

Your BC



2024-02-15: Stanford returns toothless articles; SGWU files labor charge

Stanford refuses to move on many key issues and has shown that they do not want us to have an enforceable contract. They have even tried to obstruct our ability to communicate with our members via departmental email listservs. We have now filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.


Dear Fellow Workers,

This past week we met with Stanford’s administration again. We want every graduate worker to know how our employer bargains.

How Stanford negotiates: Throughout the bargaining process, Stanford has employed numerous tactics to slow down the bargaining process and undermine our negotiating position. These include:

  1. making counter proposals without any material changes,
  2. refusing to negotiate on essential issues like nondiscrimination, and
  3. using deliberately vague language in their proposals to prevent us from enforcing the terms of these articles in our future contract.

Stanford’s tactics conceal their real purpose: to pressure us into signing a contract that cannot be enforced when our rights are violated. For instance, on Thursday we finally received a response to our proposal for an inclusive work environment, three and a half months after we first proposed it. In it, Stanford cut a provision protecting queer and trans workers’ right to use preferred names and pronouns at work. Stanford’s watered-down counter also puts the onus on grad workers to navigate the university’s bureaucracy to obtain accommodations they need to work.

These tactics are clear from their health and safety proposal. Let’s compare:

SGWU: The University shall provide a safe workplace and proactively ensure Graduate Workers’ health and safety when they are engaged in activity related to their work responsibilities.

Stanford: The University and the Union share a commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe work environment and ensuring that Graduate Workers have a safe and healthy workplace consistent with applicable law.

Notice a difference? Stanford systematically tries to change our language from one of obligation to one of recommendation, turning a legally-binding contract meant to protect our rights as workers into a trivial set of suggestions. This bargaining tactic characterized all eleven articles they returned last week (see Bargaining Tracker).

We filed an unfair labor practice charge against Stanford. The bad faith tactics don’t stop there. For months, Stanford has been arbitrarily applying standards about what messages can be shared to departmental listservs. While some SGWU organizers have no problem advertising area meetings and rallies, others have had their messages blocked and informed that listservs can be used for “department business” only. Yet these same departments continue to approve non-union messages that are neither academic nor department business on their listservs.

This arbitrary and discriminatory application of university policy is unambiguously illegal.

Despite weeks of trying to reach an amicable resolution at the bargaining table and abundant documentation of Stanford’s efforts to block union communication, Stanford refused to admit wrongdoing or pledge to discontinue this practice. We have now filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold Stanford accountable and ensure they cannot unilaterally create, alter, and selectively enforce university policy to prevent you from being informed about your union.

At the FAM, more than 200+ workers mobilized to kick off a new phase of organizing. Join the fight to ensure we have a contract with clear, concrete protections. By attending area meetings, you can stay on top of the bargaining process and help coordinate actions to escalate pressure on Stanford. Stay tuned for more!



2024-02-02: We Can Win - Together!

Stanford now willing to discuss inclusive workplace guarantees, EH&S administrator agrees with us on health and safety. We need you at the FAM to get Stanford to speed up negotiations - RSVP below!


Thanks to your continued pressure, we have several bargaining wins to report from our 02/02/2024 session. Stanford initially refused to return our article on an inclusive workplace, meant to guarantee workplace disability accommodations and key protections for grad workers. However, Stanford has now indicated they are willing to negotiate on these issues! We hope they will follow through and have an article for us to review at the next bargaining session. Though there’s still a long way to go, it’s clear that applying pressure to Stanford is leading to meaningful progress at the table.

Following pushback from the union on Stanford’s refusal to take our health and safety proposals seriously, they responded by bringing in an EH&S administrator on Friday. Under close questioning from the union bargaining committee, the expert ended up affirming the need for strong health and safety protections like the ones we’re fighting for in our contract. We are pleased that Stanford Environmental Health & Safety SHARES OUR VIEW that the bare minimum legal requirements for health and safety are not enough to protect workers.

So far, Stanford’s strategy has been to waste time and money (their lawyer isn’t cheap) rather than critically engage with our proposals. There’s still a huge number of language issues open. Despite repeated requests, Stanford continues to claim that they can’t tell us Bechtel’s response rate to student complaints. International grad workers know the truth about Bechtel’s inefficiency. If you have specific concerns related to international grad worker experience, we invite you to share your story with us and let Stanford know what’s on the line for you. We are ready to keep pushing and Stanford seems more willing to play ball as of late. Let’s press Stanford together!

We gave them responses on ELEVEN articles on Feb 02 and we’re waiting for their response. We need pressure from the general membership to sway Stanford to make important concessions on these articles at the next meeting. Come to the FAM this Wednesday (RSVP for more details)!

In Solidarity,

Your BC



2024-01-22: We Need You!

RSVP here for our University-wide February Action Meeting Wednesday, Feb 7th at 6pm


Fellow Grad Workers,

Your Bargaining Committee continues to fight for your interests in our contract negotiations with the University. We shared your stories about Stanford’s failure to protect you from workplace safety accidents, discrimination, and harassment. In response to the evidence we presented of severe workplace accidents occurring at Stanford research labs, Stanford alternated between silence and shameful admissions of ignorance. They don’t want to bear the responsibility of ensuring lab safety: they want the burden to be all on you.

Members of the BC also presented on discrimination and harassment at Stanford. The presentation contained powerful testimonies from grad workers supported by findings from Stanford’s own IDEAL survey, and explained the importance of workers having access to the union’s grievance procedure in cases of harassment and discrimination. Their response after we asked if current anti-discrimination procedures are helping victims? “We don’t track that.” Convincing the administration that the systems in place are not sufficient protections for our workers is an ongoing battle. We know that trying to report discrimination or harassment at Stanford can be traumatizing and inconclusive, especially when the abuse comes from a figure of authority like your advisor, and we are committed to ensuring workers’ access to the union’s grievance procedure, which includes a third-party arbitrator and union support.

Stanford still refuses to respond to our Inclusive Work Environment proposal on protections and accommodations for disability, religious practice, pregnancy, lactation, and gender and restroom equity. Without these protections in our contract, Stanford can continue to make unilateral changes in policy and enforcement. We cannot win a strong contract through negotiations alone. Our members must take action beyond the bargaining table to pressure Stanford to accept the contract language we need to protect workers from abuse.

Although Stanford did return some articles this session, they made almost no concessions on central issues that workers care about. By dragging their feet, Stanford hopes we’ll give up. We need a strong turnout at our February Action Meeting (FAM) on Wednesday, February 7th to show them that we’re serious about these issues. RSVP here. Know that your voice makes the difference: with your help, we pressured Stanford to agree to supply a new CA/TA/RA position each quarter (or just pay you the equivalent) if they cancel yours! With your continued support, we will force them to guarantee funding for 6 years!

Fight the Power,
Your BC.



2024-01-12: Delay, Deflect, Deny - Stanford's Tactics

Stanford is dragging out negotiations and refusing to listen. We need all Graduate Workers to come together and pressure the administration.


Happy New Year! We’re starting 2024 strong with another bargaining win. We are in tentative agreement with Stanford on training, which guarantees access to the resources you need to support your state of the art research here at Stanford. During bargaining, we shared powerful testimonies from graduate workers about Stanford’s broken promises. But we need your help to move Stanford at the table. Here are the three major takeaways:

DELAY: Stanford continues to drag their feet at the table, only returning one counterproposal at our latest bargaining session. They also haven’t returned our proposal for six-year guaranteed funding after three months of bargaining. Despite promising five years of guaranteed funding on their websites and in admissions letters, many programs still deny their students internal funding..

DEFENDING A BROKEN SYSTEM: In spite of Stanford’s own campus study results showing that its labyrinth of processes for addressing discrimination and harassment don’t work, the university is still refusing our common sense calls for neutral arbitration and Union advocacy through a standardized grievance procedure. Instead, they claim that the status quo is good enough. Moreover, their nondiscrimination counterproposal excludes protections for graduate worker identities that go beyond the legal minimum.

SHIRKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR BECHTEL OPERATIONS: Stanford refuses to take any responsibility for the Bechtel International Center. They believe that Bechtel should set their own timelines, without institutional oversight, despite being fully aware of unacceptable wait times associated with applying for critical visa services.

A Strong Union protects workers: TO MOVE STANFORD, WE NEED ORGANIZED OPPOSITION BEYOND THE BARGAINING TABLE. We won’t allow our membership to be afraid of retaliation or be unheard when their discrimination and harassment claims are reported!

A victory at the table means all of us working together! We are currently collecting testimonials on:
-Lab safety incidents that you believe could have been prevented if not for Stanford’s negligence – if you have stories, you can share them with us here: http://tinyurl.com/sgwusafety.
-Experiences from international graduate workers navigating Bechtel, which you can share here: http://tinyurl.com/sgwubechtel.

Please join us at our all-hands meeting on Thursday Jan 18! At this meeting, we will give updates on our campaigns for six year guaranteed funding, anti harassment and discrimination terms, fellow inclusion, and many of the other issues Stanford has been pushing back on. Make your voice heard!

In solidarity, Your Bargaining Committee



2023-12-14: Stanford Returns Articles

Stanford resists nondiscrimination, workplace safety, fellow inclusion, and rights for international workers.


We hope you’re all doing well and planning for a restful break! TLDR: We made a lot of progress today and got some valuable concessions but Stanford plans to fight us on many fronts, including nondiscrimination, workplace safety, fellow inclusion, and rights for international workers. We won’t let them win. Look below for ways to get involved in the fight!

We just finished day 4 of bargaining with Stanford, and we finally received all but 3 of the articles we needed from them. The counter proposals they presented can be found on our handy-dandy bargaining tracker on our website.

In good news: We reached tentative agreements on two of our articles today! Stanford expressed willingness to host a website advertising open appointment listings We made headway on our grievance and arbitration article, which is critical to enforcing the terms of our contract and protecting workers from abuse and harassment

Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go. Stanford is using technicalities to devalue the work of research fellows and remove them from our union. Stanford also wants to pick and choose which people they will protect from harassment, omitting many protected categories that we had included in our proposals including caste and immigration status. Stanford maintains that whatever protections they will provide with regard to harassment and discrimination will not be enforceable via our grievance procedure. This would amount to a maintenance of the status quo, with no real protections for graduate workers against discrimination and harassment. This is unacceptable to us.

Despite our calls for safe working conditions for our membership, Stanford refuses to provide protections that go beyond the bare minimum required by law or codify rights and protections for international and undocumented workers. It’s clear we need a strong union but Stanford proposes that we accept a weak and unenforceable contract.

Show Stanford that these issues demand an immediate response by signing our Fellows Inclusion Petition and getting involved in Area meetings and the weekly Thursday Contract Action Team meetings! We are also running issue campaigns around fellow inclusion, union security, nondiscrimination, 6 year funding, and international student rights. If you’re interested please fill out our Issue Campaign Interest Form.

Our next bargaining session will be January 12th, 2024. We’re counting on your involvement to fight for the best contract. Please attend your departmental area meetings and make your voices heard!

In solidarity, SGWU Bargaining Committee



2023-11-14: Bargaining Day 3

Won concessions on our name. Stanford stalling on nondiscrimination, disciplinary action, and our ability to enforce our contract.


Fellow grad workers,

TLDR: We won some consequential concessions at bargaining session 3!! Let’s keep this momentum going. Stanford is stalling and wants to fight us on nondiscrimination, disciplinary action, and our ability to enforce our contract. We won’t let them win on these issues!

On Tuesday we met with Stanford admin to continue discussing the fundamentals of our union contract. The four counter proposals they presented can be found on our handy-dandy bargaining tracker on our website.

In our third round of bargaining, the Bargaining Committee was able to break through Stanford’s insistence that they should be able to run the show – even down to what we call ourselves in our contract. Members of the bargaining committee read statements that detailed how being called “students” would diminish the value of the varied and crucial work we do at the university. By coming to an agreement that we will be called “Graduate Workers” (the GW in SGWU), we have effectively told Stanford that they will not be able to dictate the terms of our recognition. This is an important concession for future bargaining sessions grounded in respect and dignity for the work we do and the people we are. It should never have taken this much convincing, but your BC will not back down when it comes to fundamental questions of inclusion and dignity for all workers!

We have also won important concessions from Stanford on appointment letters and employer-covered training! These wins mean that:

  1. We will each receive a formal notice detailing our conditions of employment at the beginning of each quarter or year. We’re still working to determine what kind of information will be included in these notices.

  2. The university will cover the costs of relevant training for our work. This is an important consolidation of existing benefits, and we continue to fight to expand what can be included under this provision.

Keeping up our momentum is critical for a strong first contract. But Stanford’s tactic is to delay negotiations. By offering intermittent meeting times and stalling on counter proposals for key issues, Stanford is hoping to draw out bargaining. We cannot allow Stanford to continue to drag their feet on major issues like nondiscrimination, fellow inclusion, grievance procedures. Stanford also explicitly rejected our language stating that they must keep any promises they make to workers in admission letters. We insist that Stanford not be allowed to mislead prospective graduate workers so that they accept offers of admission. Show Stanford that these issues demand an immediate response by signing our Fellows Inclusion Petition, and getting involved in Area meetings and the weekly Thursday Contract Action Team meetings!

Our next bargaining meeting will be November 28. We’re counting on your involvement to fight for the best contract. Please attend your departmental area meetings and make your voices heard!

Want to get involved but don’t know where to start? Fill out our interest form here!

In solidarity,

SGWU Bargaining Committee



2023-11-06: Bargaining Day 2

Check out Stanford's first counter proposals. Stanford doesn't want grievances to cover nondiscrimination.


Grad Workers,

Today, we discussed key non-economic issues with Stanford and responded to their questions about our proposals. You can see the university’s two counter-proposals and one proposal for new language in the bargaining tracker. Although we are close to reaching agreement on two articles, Stanford has also taken positions that would harm our union’s ability to effectively represent and protect its membership.

Stanford’s negotiators doubled down on the view that we are students first and workers second, a fundamentally disrespectful argument meant to justify low pay and minimal protections. Like their refusal to recognize fellows as members of our union, Stanford is ignoring the value we all contribute as workers at the University.

Additionally, Stanford wants to prevent the union from protecting its members against discriminatory behavior. We know a union-backed grievance procedure is essential for empowering workers who may experience harm due to their race, gender, disability status, caste, and other protected categories. We need nondiscrimination contract language to hold Stanford accountable.

Our next bargaining meeting will be November 14. We’re giving the University time to reconsider the two positions they’ve taken today. Show Stanford how much these issues matter to you by signing our petition to include Fellows in the bargaining unit. Most importantly, we need you to get involved! Attend your departmental area meetings and make your voices heard!

In solidarity,

SGWU Bargaining Committee