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Graduate student union election scheduled

Students will decide whether they wish to be represented by the Stanford Graduate Workers Union for purposes of collective bargaining. Eligible graduate students in the local area will vote May 31-June 1 in person; eligible graduate students currently living away from the local area will be able to vote by mail.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has scheduled an election for eligible graduate students at Stanford to vote on whether they wish to be represented by the Stanford Graduate Workers Union, an affiliate of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

For eligible graduate students who currently live within the 10 counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, the election will be held May 31 and June 1, with in-person voting on the Stanford campus. Eligible graduate students who are currently enrolled but do not reside in the local area will be permitted to vote by mail so long as they return their ballot to the NLRB no later than 5 p.m. June 30, 2023.

Results of the election are expected in early July, shortly after the mail-in voting process concludes and votes from both the in-person and mail-in processes are tallied by the NLRB.

“This is an important decision that will affect not only today’s graduate students, but future graduate students at Stanford,” said Provost Persis Drell. “We continue to encourage all eligible graduate students to learn about the collective bargaining process and what it would mean for them to be in a union, and to then exercise their right to vote in this election.”

Key points about the election process include (additional information can be found at

  • The election outcome will be determined by the majority of those who vote in the election (not a majority of those who are eligible to vote).
  • Graduate students who are eligible to vote in the election will receive an email notification from the university in the days leading up to the election. In general, those who are eligible are PhD, non-MBA Master’s, and JD students enrolled at Stanford who provide instructional and/or research services for the university in classifications including Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and Course Assistant this quarter. Additional information can be found under the Election FAQs on the Graduate Student Unionization website.
  • In general, fellows are not eligible to vote unless they are providing instructional services similar to those described above this quarter.
  • The email notifications that students will receive also will direct them where and when to vote on campus, if they will be voting in person. To facilitate the efficiency of the voting process, there will be three in-person election sites. There will be sites at Tresidder Memorial Union and in the Durand Building near the Science and Engineering Quad, with eligible voters assigned to one of these two locations based on their academic program. Alternatively, all eligible students will be able to vote at a third voting site at the Escondido Village Graduate Residences.
  •  If a majority of eligible voters affirmatively vote for union representation, all graduate students in the bargaining unit would be represented by the union and would be subject to the terms and conditions negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement, regardless of whether an individual graduate student voted for unionization or not. The union would become the exclusive representative of all students in the bargaining unit regarding wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

The Stanford Graduate Workers Union petitioned the NLRB for an election in late April after collecting authorization cards from a portion of the students the union wishes to represent. Since that time, the NLRB, the union, and the university have been discussing the logistics of the election and together reached a stipulated election agreement outlining how the vote will be administered.

“We greatly value the many contributions that Stanford graduate students make to the university’s mission of teaching and research, and we continue to be committed to a fair and informed election process that allows eligible students to make this important decision on the question of union representation,” Drell said.

The university is providing election information and answers to frequently asked questions on the Graduate Student Unionization website.