As you consider your vote in the October 25-26 election, please think about not only whether you want a union acting as your exclusive bargaining representative, but also whether the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the right union for you.

  • As its name suggests, SEIU primarily represents service workers such as janitors, security officers, bus drivers and nursing home aides.
  • SEIU is a relative newcomer to private higher education and they lack expertise in the academic environment, graduate education, disciplinary study and customs, and insight into the resources you need to be successful here and in postdoctoral career pathways.

Another component of your decision should be based on the experience of the Washington University adjunct instructors currently represented by SEIU. 

  • The terms of their contract fell far short of the promises made by SEIU during its campaign. Subsequently, SEIU devoted significant effort during the initial semester of the contract persuading adjunct instructors to authorize the University to deduct union dues, fees, or contributions directly from adjunct instructor’s paychecks.
  • Many adjunct instructors complained that SEIU representatives interrupted their classrooms to try to convince them to pay union dues, even though the contract prohibits union representatives from interfering with the work of instructors. The union also informed adjunct instructors that they would lose their jobs if they did not pay union dues, when in fact their contract provided them with other options.
  • SEIU demanded the University deny reappointment to nearly 70 adjuncts – more than ⅓ of the faculty represented by the union that semester – many of whom had taught at the University for years. Out of concern that the SEIU’s conduct had impaired the adjuncts’ opportunity to properly consider their options, the University refused.
  • SEIU pursued grievances and arbitration over the University’s refusal to end the adjunct instructors’ appointments. Although an arbitrator found that the union’s behavior did not affect the terms of the collective bargaining agreement requiring adjuncts to make payments as a condition of employment – a decision that is subject to review by a federal court – the University defended the faculty members’ rights not to be mistreated by the union and successfully preserved their employment.

SEIU has already engaged in similar behavior with respect to graduate students.

  • Students have complained about SEIU representatives interrupting their studies and activities and entering restricted laboratories.
  • One of the significant concerns of our international graduate student community relates to the possibility of joining a union that decides to strike. SEIU has falsely reported that such an event would have no impact on student’s visa status, contrary to the law and the position of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Although the University would never report any student unless legally required to do so, the University believes that our students deserve truthful information about a matter that could have a significant impact on their education and lives.
  • The SEIU’s response was to file a complaint with the NLRB.

Please consider this information and ask yourself – Is SEIU the kind of organization you want representing you while you pursue your graduate education at Washington University?