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Why I will vote AGAINST Unionization: an Op Ed

I started out on the fence. I wanted to hear more before I made up my mind. Having now listened to arguments for and against – as well as observed some of the tactics employed by those involved in the debate – I have decided to vote AGAINST unionization, for the following reasons.
My first reason is that I do not wish to be a member of the AFT. It is one thing to be a member of the GSU, which I can at least theoretically believe has my interests in mind, but it is an entirely different matter to be subsumed into a large bureaucracy with goals of its own in which my power of influence is minimal. Now, I understand that the AFT has been very active in trying to court us, and some may say that it will be just as active in fighting for us against the university. Perhaps. But let us not forget what the AFT stands to gain from our membership: First, our money. A union at a private university is a highly lucrative business. Second, our “name”: from now on, they could enlist the University of Chicago in support of whatever social or political cause they may wish to get behind in the future. And I, for one, am not so confident that it is really our interests – rather than its own – that the AFT is currently fighting for.
Secondly, I have real concerns about the leaders of GSU and the possibility that they gain even more power. Over the past few months, we have been hearing constantly about the university leading a campaign of “misinformation” and “intimidation”. But of what I have seen it is exactly the opposite. It is the GSU that has consistently boycotted forums for debate. It is the GSU that refused to conduct dialogue with anyone with diverging views. And it is the GSU that has been actively harassing students (really! Ask students in the Biological Divisions!) Further, in the last few months – and especially the last few weeks – GSU leaders have resorted to ugly personal attacks against university faculty and officials, and even against pro-union students who were deemed too moderate. I know some of these officials. I know their work. I came to this university to study with them. I also know some of these students. And I refuse to participate in the culture of hatred fostered against them by the GSU.
And lastly, on a personal note, I simply wish to negotiate in my own behalf vis-à-vis the university. It may be unwise of me, but it is my choice.
These are my personal reflections, but I hope that they may resonate with others as well. Perhaps one day, it will be the right thing for UChicago grad students to unionize. But in light of these reasons, I do not believe this time is now. As such, I have decided to vote AGAINST unionization, and I encourage my fellow students to do the same. Further, I have joined a group called “Stop and Think” which, as its name suggests, seeks to educate the student body about both the benefits and hazards of unionization before this issue is brought to a vote. I encourage everyone to check out their site, and seek out its members. Above all, however, I encourage everyone to stop being afraid. There are more of us than you think.
Yiftach Ofek, PhD Student
Div School

The Election Conditions Have Changed

GSU relented to the university’s request and have changed their election petition! Originally they requested the NLRB conduct a mail in ballot vote on the union over the summer, while most students were off campus. Now they have changed their request to an in person election during the fall quarter, likely October.

An in person election means that Graduate students in the bargaining unit (the composition of which has yet to be confirmed by the NLRB) will vote in one of a few voting locations around campus over the course of a few days. Each student can only cast a ballot for them selves with their physical presence. Students away at conferences or visiting home can not cast an absentee ballot.

It is my personal opinion that due to the tumultuous issue of constantly changing mailing addresses and off campus summer work, the in person election during the fall quarter will likely allow more students to vote than the summer mail in ballot would have. Similarly it has been my experience as a student organizer and the experience of other student organizers I know, that the most effective way to reach U of C students is through signs hung in popular places. I don’t know why this is more effective than social media but for Uchicago its what works. The in person election allows students to be notified of the election via signage all over campus which I think will result in a larger voter turn out.

Petition Documents for Unionization

Hi all,

Released through a FOIA request, the original and updated RC petitions for unionization have been released and can be found here.

Note that the size of the bargaining unit is at 2559. If we assume $500 in dues a year per student (c.f. University of Michigan dues), this means GSU stands to gain over $1.3 million PER YEAR. Think about this figure next time someone tries to get your vote through ideological arguments.

Furthermore, both original (05/08) and amended (05/17) call for elections from May 30th – June 20th. This date has been set in stone since the original petition, yet why does GSU answer “some time soon” whenever asked when the election will be?


First on the to do list! Update your mailing address on my.uchicago.

We learned a lot from our meeting with Jake Rubinstein Esq. We talked about the university’s plans for how they will respond to the actions of GSU and came across an important problem. We believe GSU is currently petitioning the NLRB to hold a mail in secret ballot election. This means that the university will provide its current list of graduate students in the proposed bargaining unit and the NLRB will mail ballots to the addresses that the university has on file for each of us.  We will then fill out the ballot and snail mail it back. You can see the potential problem here, many of us do not have our current addresses updated on my.uchicago because we all move so often.


The last thing that we, the university, and GSU want is low voter turnout. So we need everyone to update their current mailing address on my.uchicago to ensure that everyone actually receives the ballots they are mailed if this goes to a vote. We need to spread this word like wild fire. Update your mailing address on my.uchicago to your current one (where you actually receive and check your mail) and be ready to start checking your mail regularly.


Please share this information and talk to your friends and faculty about Stop and Think. We need to reach the whole graduate student body so they are ready for a potential mail in election.

How to Get Involved!

We plan to have meetings multiple times before the election. However we need to know When is everyone is most available to meet. If you are interested in going to a meeting please fill out this survey.

Also if you would like to be added to our email list fill out this form

You can keep track of our events through our facebook group