Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Union FAQs

Main content start

What is a union?

A labor union is an organization that is the exclusive representative of a group of employees that negotiates with an employer on employment matters such as wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

What is the NLRB and what is its role in forming a union?

The NLRB is an independent federal agency created to enforce the NLRA.

What is the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)?

The SGWU decided to affiliate with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). UE is a national union representing workers in a variety of manufacturing, public sector and private service-sector jobs. UE is an independent union, meaning it is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO federation of unions.

Who is represented by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 1043, Stanford Graduate Workers Union (UE Local 1043-SGWU)?

The UE Local 1043-SGWU represents all Ph.D., Masters (excluding MBA) and J.D. students (as well as students pursuing degree combinations that include Ph.D., Masters (excluding MBA), and J.D.) enrolled at Stanford University who provide instructional and/or research services for the University in classifications including Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and Course Assistant, and students on fellowship who provide instructional services.

The following populations are excluded: 

  • All other exempt employees (including faculty or staff enrolled using university tuition benefit) 
  • Students who are not providing research or instructional services for any class listed in Stanford Explore Courses including all other students on fellowship 
  • All other students (including but not limited to the following students: MBA, DMA, JSD, MD, and undergraduate students (including undergraduates who are conterminously enrolled in graduate program)
  • Students not seeking Stanford degrees, and visiting students 
  • Office clericals; managers; guards and supervisors as defined in the NLRA

Does Stanford have any other unions?

Stanford is proud of our collaborative working relationship with SEIU Higher Education Workers Local 2007 and the Stanford Deputy Sheriffs’ Association (SDSA).

Are all graduate students obligated to be part of  the union?

All graduate students included in the bargaining unit are represented by the union and 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 is the “exclusive representative” of everyone in the bargaining unit for wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.

Can a graduate worker refuse to become a union member even though they are part of the bargaining unit?

Yes, a person may decide not to become a member of the union, but even if an individual does not become a member, they are still subject to the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement. 

Does being in a union cost graduate workers money?

Yes, unions charge dues and/or fees. The amount of union dues and/or fees collected from employees represented by unions is set by the union. According to the SGWU website, UE’s present minimum dues are 1.44% of wages. The issue of the payment and collection of dues and/or fees is being negotiated under the topic of “union security.”