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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

GOLD-UE votes to strike, effective May 1

Dartmouth’s graduate student workers’ union is negotiating for higher pay and better benefits.

Thayer School

Last night, Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth-United Electrical Workers, the College’s graduate student workers’ union, voted to strike, according to a campus-wide email from College Provost David Kotz. The strike will take effect tomorrow.

The College has reached “tentative agreements” with GOLD-UE on 18 articles and “addressed each of their proposals,” according to Kotz’s email. Kotz did not include additional information on the agreements. GOLD-UE has been negotiating with the College on 28 articles since Aug. 23, 2023, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth.

“We have listened to graduate students’ concerns, as expressed by GOLD-UE, and offered solutions that we hoped would reach the widest number of graduate students possible while balancing the needs of our broader community of undergraduates, faculty, professional students and staff,” Kotz wrote.

Members of GOLD-UE intend to withhold their labor “until they can reach a mutually agreeable contract with Dartmouth,” Dartmouth Student Government wrote in an email to campus last night. They are striking for higher salaries and better benefits. 

The strike will cause “reduced access to academic support” and “potential changes to course structure and schedule,” according to the email from DSG. GOLD-UE members work at the College as researchers and teaching assistants in undergraduate courses.

“Graduate students are essential to the undergraduate academic experience,” DSG wrote. “Without a contract that allows graduate students to work without worries about the cost of living, healthcare and childcare, and other factors that affect their quality of life, graduate students would not be able to deliver on the instrumental role they serve in the undergraduate academic experience.”

Logan Mann Th’25, a member of the GOLD-UE bargaining committee, said the union is negotiating for an increased annual salary of $53,000 — up from $40,000 — use of the College’s childcare center and improved healthcare benefits, including dental and vision insurance.

Mann said the “first significant movement” in the negotiation process from the College occurred back in March, when campus officials offered to increase the workers’ salary to $47,000 but did not change other benefits.  

The College has been “intransigent” and “condescending” in their negotiations that began last August, he added.  

“By our survey data, exactly half of our membership has not been to the dentist at all in their time at Dartmouth,” Mann said. “Largely the experience of working here is one of sinking deeper into debt and into rent-burdened poverty, oftentimes paying half of your stipend back to Dartmouth and having the teeth rot out of your head.”

The email from DSG also lists ways for undergraduate students to “express solidarity” with GOLD-UE, including “not accept[ing] grading/teaching positions or other work traditionally reserved for graduate teaching assistants during the strike.” DSG members previously met on April 28 to discuss how to inform students of a potential strike, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. 

“We’ve not made satisfactory progress at the table with Dartmouth, and our members have repeatedly — at general body meetings — ratified that this process is not acceptable,” Mann said.

The College has "offered to engage an independent outside mediator” to negotiate with GOLD-UE and “help the parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” according to Kotz’s email. 

“Our goal is to reach a fair and equitable contract as soon as possible,” Kotz wrote. “Dartmouth has offered multiple opportunities to add bargaining sessions this week … in hope that we can avert a strike and finalize our agreements.”