Letter from CGSU to Cornell Administration, Labor Relations

Yesterday, members of the CGSU sent a letter to Cornell University’s head of labor relations to notify them of our formation. We hope to model in all of our activities transparency and good faith towards the university, GPSA, and other allies and members of the Cornell community. This letter is part of our effort to communicate this good will, as well as making clear our independence and sincere commitment to improving the conditions of work and labor for graduate students at Cornell.

March 10, 2014
Alan Mittman
Director, Workforce Policy and Labor Relations
Cornell University

Dear Mr. Mittman,

I am a graduate student in [–] and an employee of the university writing on behalf of Cornell Graduate Students United, (“CGSU”) a new independent labor organization of and for Cornell graduate student employees.  I am writing you to inform the university of our new labor organization and to confirm that you are its proper representative for the union to be in communication with.  We believe CGSU provides the university with a helpful new mechanism for graduate student employee voices to be heard on all issues affecting our workplace.  CGSU’s website may be found at:  http://www.cornellgsu.org.

Although this letter is not intended as a demand for recognition under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”), we believe the definition of “employee” found in section 2(3) of the Act includes graduate student employees working for Cornell as teaching assistants, research assistants, and in other capacities notwithstanding the National Labor Relations Board’s current interpretation of the issue in Brown University.[1]  We are students and employees with both an educational relationship and an economic relationship with the university.  One relationship does not trump the other.  Given that the Board recently solicited briefing on this issue, we expect the Board will reconsider its holding in Brown when an appropriate case reaches it.[2]

All best,



Cornell Graduate Students United

[1] 342 NLRB 483 (2004)

[2] Notice and Invitation to File Briefs, New York University (02-RC-023481), June 22, 2012