American University Graduate Workers Announce Union Election Filing

American University Graduate Workers Announce Union Election Filing

American University graduate workers are the first in Nation’s Capital to move to join a union movement in higher education that is going full-steam


Washington– Graduate workers at American University in Washington, DC announced that on Friday, February 24th, they filed for a union election to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 as part of the national union movement to reclaim higher education’s mission.

American University graduate workers are continuing to build support while taking an important step towards a vote to join contingent faculty at six colleges and universities in the Washington, DC area and dozens of other universities who have joined SEIU in the past three years.


“I’m thrilled that my fellow AU grad workers and I are one step closer to a union by filing for an election. The filing adds to the momentum faculty have built by joining SEIU Local 500,” said Bethany Zaiman, Master’s student in Anthropology. “It’s exhilarating to have American University students, faculty and many peers at other Washington, DC universities all come together to show support for our efforts.”


The filing comes at a moment when people across the country – fed up with a system that’s rigged against them – are speaking out for good jobs, the opportunity for a better life for their families, and a real voice in our economy and democracy. Uniting in a strong worker organization like SEIU Local 500 is a way for American University graduate students to stand up and speak up for the real change they want and need.


“American is a great university, yet a huge group of graduate workers lack the pay and stability that would allow us to focus on our research, our students, and our futures,” said Cherie Saulter, a PhD student in the School of International Service. “Graduate workers need a voice to advocate for better working conditions, which is why we are standing with thousands of others who are forming unions across the country; together we can push back against the pressures that are squeezing faculty, graduate student workers, and the entire academic community.”

Together, faculty and graduate workers from coast to coast are building support to form their union with SEIU, and driving a national movement to address the crisis in higher education which is dragging students into unsustainable debt, and marginalizing the academic workforce. Graduate workers at several universities have filed or won their union with SEIU since August’s NLRB decision that gives them the right to collectively bargain, including Loyola University Chicago and Duke University.

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