March 7th, 2023
General Membership Meeting
Thurs March 9th, 5:30-6:30pm on Zoom and at Medical Center North B-1308
We’re confident that we’re going to get vision and dental insurance coverage next year–that’s a big win and the result of all of our organizing! However, the admin still refuses to publicly comment on this. Let’s come together and talk about how we’re going to keep organizing this semester for an #affordableVU! All grads are welcome!
And join your co-workers for some ice cream afterwards!
Feb 20, 2023
In May of 2022, Vanderbilt Graduate Students started a petition to ask for dental and vision benefits to be added to the SHIP. We chose to organize around this issue together and what we’ve seen is that our collective pressure has power! Our petition had overwhelming support—over 1.2K signatures!—and shortly after we delivered it (for a second time), Vanderbilt Admin sent an email assuring graduate students that our concerns were heard and that dental and vision would be part of our healthcare contract negotiations in the spring. The first of those meetings was yesterday, Feb. 22nd. Following this, our allies in the Graduate Student Council hosted a webinar last night to allow graduate student representatives present at the meeting to share updates on this important issue. The Admin has refused to be transparent or go public about the nature of our healthcare. They asked our GSC reps to retain confidentiality regarding the exact nature of the negotiations while the proposed plan is sent off to the state for approval. So, our questions at the webinar had to go largely unanswered. In other words, the Admin has refused to be transparent (or allow transparency from our GSC reps) regarding the state of dental and vision care.
Meanwhile, prospective students and deans from some colleges have confirmed via email that vision and dental benefits will be included in 2023-24 AY. The Admin says that they understand that this is a pressing concern, and a survey of graduate students shows that hundreds have been delaying vital care due to cost. At the same time that current grads are being denied updates on our own healthcare, the progress on this issue we’ve achieved through our organizing efforts is being used to attract prospective graduate students.
We understand these negotiations take time, but the lack of transparency on issues that affect graduate student health right now shows a lack of respect and concern for graduate student workers. Our GSC reps have assured us that good news is coming—and we believe them—but we need that administration to publicly acknowledge this right now. As we’ve seen from the numerous testimonies many of you have shared on our social media, graduate students have felt the financial and physical burdens of lacking dental and vision insurance for a long time. We need this information to plan and budget for our healthcare procedures, especially as rising housing costs have made our budgets even tighter. We’ve done our best to tell the admin what graduate students need. Even when we directly put an issue like this on the table, the Admin closes their doors. Without a union contract, we not only don’t have a say, but we also lack the right to be updated on crucial information.
Join us this evening at Sarahba’s Creamery on 21st from 5-7pm for free ice cream and a chance to talk with your co-workers about our next steps.
Feb 20, 2023
January 23rd, 2023
Unionizing at Vanderbilt this Year
At the General Membership Meeting (GMM) on Thursday, we came together and decided how and when we want to unionize this year. We had previously decided that before we launched a campaign, we wanted to see at least 600 card pledges and 100 organizers signed up by the time of this GMM. We got over 300 pledges and over 50 organizers. That is amazing progress and growth in the few short months between November and January! But, it is shy of our goals. Given this and other timeline considerations, including a major court case concerning MIT grads that could set important legal precedents for our own organizing efforts, those present at the GMM unanimously voted to push back our card drop date from this spring to the fall semester. This was a difficult decision to make, especially for those of us leaving the university at the end of the spring who have been working for a long time to make our union a reality. But, pushing back our card drop date will ensure that we all have the time to build the strong, unified community we need to unionize together. In the meantime, there is still lots to do to prepare for our campaign. Sign up here to help organize!
Peabody Grads VGWU Social TOMORROW Jan. 24th, 3-6pm
International Grads—learn about how other international students have unionized and what they have won at this UE telecon TOMORROW, Jan. 24th, 3-4pm
VGWU Social Thursday, Jan. 26th, 6-8pm
November 17th, 2022
We won a lot organizing together in 2022. Let’s keep growing and winning even more in 2023!
Raises for law students, student fee cuts, weekly lunches for astro & physics, biomed raises, dental/vision care, and more—we organized and won a lot together in 2022. We know we can win more, but how?
In the past few years, Grad workers at Duke, Brown, MIT, Georgetown, and Indiana have all unionized and won big raises and improved working conditions. They also used their legal bargaining powers to codify what they had already won, permanently getting rid of student fees, securing healthcare benefits, and more. How can we follow in their footsteps here at Vanderbilt? Come to the hybrid General Membership Meeting on November 17th & let’s decide together!
Drinks and pizza on VGWU this Thursday!
November 1st, 2022
Admin Unveiled their New “Housing for Graduate Students”—But None of Us Grads Can Afford It. Fight for $40k & Affordable Housing on Tuesday!
Graduates can’t afford the new housing that the administration built “for us.” To afford this and keep up with rising living costs in Nashville, we need better pay. Come fight for $40k/year on Tuesday!
Organizing works—you were able to successfully push the administration to a public commitment to work on dental/vision care with your petition, press conference, and town hall. Because you grew your movement for better working conditions and got over 1,100 of your colleagues to fight together for the same thing, the administration was forced to act. You can organize for better pay too, and win!
Missed admin’s grad student housing scam? Here’s what a 267 sq. ft. studio apartment costs…
That’s over $5 per sq. ft.—almost $6 if you include the $270 amenities fee! And this doesn’t even include parking. Most of our colleagues make between $28k-$35k per year. This rent is well over half of our monthly stipends. This is not affordable housing—it’s robbery. The admin can and should do better, either by lowering the price of this housing that their own grads can’t afford, or raising your pay to keep pace with inflation. Come rally for $40k on Tuesday!
On Wednesday, your co-workers went to the admin’s open house for the new housing at Broadview…not so many grads showed up for the tour, but lots came out to call for better wages & lower rents!
October 14th, 2022
The Admin Responded to Your Petition — What’s Next? Come Shape the Direction of Your Campaign on Monday Night at 6pm
This is an important moment for your campaign. The admin has publicly acknowledged the issue of dental and vision care faced by grads, and has publicly committed to a serious response.
This acknowledgement was only possible because you have continued to organize with your co-workers to hold them accountable and grow your movement for fair, decent, affordable healthcare. Your movement has become so powerful and unified that the admin is feeling the pressure—your collective, organized action of signing, sharing, and delivering the petition (twice!) has forced them to publicly commit to action. And, while they have only responded officially to the proposal brought forth by the Graduate Student Council, that proposal was entirely based on your petition organized by you and your co-workers with VGWU. This is a fact that GSC leaders have themselves happily recognized. Your organizing efforts are working, and it’s time to build on that success.
This acknowledgement raises questions for your campaign that can only be decided together. What should the response of your movement be to this news? How should you and your co-workers continue to organize for dental and vision care given the upcoming SHIP meeting in the spring of 2023? Your co-workers have big plans for the future, and you’re a part of them! Come make these important decisions with your colleagues this Monday night at 6pm in the Alumni Hall Grad Student Lounge!
Missed their email? Here’s what the admin had to say…
October 3rd, 2022
General Body Meeting (Oct 6, 2022) Sign-In:
General Body Zoom Link:
Don’t Let the Admin Leave You On Read. Join Your Co-Workers on Monday at 3 pm as We Go Back to Their Offices and Ask for Their Response to Your Petition!
You and your co-workers delivered your petition for affordable dental and vision care to the administration nearly one month ago with over 1,100 grad signatures. They have not meaningfully responded to your petition in any way. Let’s go back and ask them for their response! Join your colleagues on Monday at 3pm in the Alumni Hall Grad Student Lounge as we back over to their offices to again ask them to address this crisis of grad student health care!
If they do not meaningfully respond on Monday, your colleagues are organizing a mass demonstration for the week of October 17th. Stay tuned for more details!
Nearly 1,100 grads have signed your petition. That is a lot of grads! To demonstrate just how many of your co-workers feel impacted by the lack of affordable dental and vision care, we will be delivering the petition to the administration on Monday one page of signatures at a time. Can you help deliver a page or two on Monday? Sign up below!
September 27th, 2022
Decide What’s Next for Your Dental/Vision Campaign and the Year Ahead this Thursday
Together with your co-workers, you delivered your petition for affordable dental and vision care to the administration. (Click here to read all about your amazing show of strength, solidarity, and unity that day in The Hustler!) Now, it’s time to meet to decide together the next steps for your campaign and plan out the year ahead. Join your colleagues this Thursday night on Zoom or in-person for a general body meeting at Stevenson Center Building 6 Rm. SC6333 from 5:30-6:30pm. All grad students are invited to this general body meeting. Let’s talk about how we will organize collectively to win healthy teeth, eyes, and more in the coming months!
September 6th, 2022
A few months ago, some concerned graduates started a petition to the administration for affordable dental and vision care. In it, your co-workers ask for 75% of the insurance premiums for those that opt-in to Vandy’s grad dental/vision programs to be paid for by the admin. With nearly 1,100 grad student signatures your petition now stands as a testament to the unity of graduates on this issue. Now, it’s time to rally together at a town hall and deliver your petition this Friday. A social movement is at its strongest when all of its participants—including our faculty, staff, and undergrad allies—act together in unison, so come out to demonstrate your power and win affordable dental & vision care! Allies are welcome and encouraged to attend!