Despite Stalling Tactics of University, WPI Graduate Workers Win First Contract


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This week, 600 graduate student researchers and instructors (the WPI Graduate Workers’ Union) ratified their first contract at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with a 97.5% yes vote.

Workers at the university achieved a very strong first contract that includes:

  • 20% raises in the first year with salary increases that bring workers’ salary up from $32,000 to a minimum floor of $39,000. Many workers will make over $40,000 for the first time at WPI through the life of this agreement.
  • Raise in the hourly minimum rates by $3-5/hour for hourly administrative workers, instructors, and researchers. Annual raises to the minimum rate of $.33 each year thereafter.
  • Health insurance premiums 100% covered by the university for individual coverage and almost complete subsidy for family coverage.
  • Protections against harassment and discrimination, including bullying/power-based harassment with recourse to arbitration for all cases.
  • Agency shop language (instead of an open shop, which higher ed institutions routinely push for).
  • Guaranteed time off with a total of 32 days between vacation, holiday and personal time.
  • Eight weeks paid parental leave with the ability to request an additional 2-week paid leave.
  • Ten paid days for immigration leave, an issue core to the significant number of members who are international student workers.

WPI-GWU won their first contract in just nine months, quite an achievement in the Higher Education sector given that universities routinely and strongly resist unionization efforts, break the law, and stall negotiations.

Workers at WPI first began organizing in the fall of 2020, reaching a majority in the spring of 2022. In November of last year, they won their NLRB election with an overwhelming 96% yes vote.

“All of the credit for this successful contract campaign goes to the member-led organizing and bargaining committees,” Region 9A Director Brandon Mancilla said. “They were wonderfully supported by our International team of lead organizer, Josh Gilbert, and servicing representative, Mikayla Vu.”

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