Dear members of the Stanford community,

We wrote to you last on April 7 about the graduate student unionization effort that has been under way at Stanford.

We recently received a request from the Stanford Graduate Workers Union (SGWU) to voluntarily recognize the union. Because doing so would involve bypassing an election, we have informed the SGWU that we do not agree to this request.

We believe that a secret-ballot election is a fundamental principle of democratic decision-making and is the most inclusive, fair, and secure method by which to determine whether a majority of eligible graduate students wish to be represented by a union. We feel strongly that every graduate student should have the ability, free from undue influence, to make this decision on their own.

As a next step, we anticipate the SGWU will file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking it to schedule and supervise an election. We expect an election will be held in a matter of weeks.

We encourage all eligible graduate students to educate themselves about the collective bargaining process and what it would mean for them to be in a union, and then exercise their right to vote in the election. The university is continuing to provide factual information for our community through this website, which has been updated recently with additional FAQs specific to the union election.

As we have stated previously, as Stanford leaders we greatly value the many contributions our graduate students make to Stanford’s mission of teaching and research. We will continue working to understand, appreciate, and be responsive to the needs of our graduate students, so that we may foster their well-being throughout their time at Stanford.

We encourage everyone in our community, particularly those eligible to vote in the election, to learn about the issues relevant to this consequential election and to support a fair and well-informed election process.


Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Persis Drell