The Maine Labor Relations Board (MLRB) has certified the University of Maine Graduate Workers Union-UAW (UMGWU-UAW), following verification by an independent arbitrator that a majority of graduate workers have signed cards supporting the formation of their union. Through a process called majority sign-up, the university agreed to recognize the union should the arbitrator verify that a majority signed cards. The new unit will represent the 1,000 graduate workers across all campuses of the University of Maine System who make up a large percentage of the overall teaching and research workforce.
“Today, after years of discussion and months of organizing, we are thrilled to announce that we have won our union,” said Remi Geohegan, a second year PhD student and Teaching Assistant in the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering at UMaine. “The University of Maine administration did the right thing by agreeing to recognize our union through a majority sign-on process, and the majority has spoken. Based on the strong support that exists across campus, and among faculty, legislators and community leaders, we are excited about the very real prospect of beginning negotiations for a strong first contract.”
“Our work powers the educational and research mission of the University and was instrumental in UMaine receiving the status of an R1 rated research university. In short, UMaine works because we do,” said Em Sowles, a fourth year PhD candidate and Research Assistant in the Physics department. “But for too long, we have struggled with low and inconsistent pay, substandard health benefits and the need for a voice at work. Today we are proud to have formally secured a seat at the table, so we can begin to improve our working lives through legally enforceable contracts.”