PGSU sent the following email out to Princeton graduate students on February 28, 2023.
In recent years, Princeton’s announcement of stipend raises seem motivated by the nationwide unionization of graduate students at schools like MIT, Harvard, Columbia, and many others. For example, grad workers at Columbia University were on strike from Nov 3, 2021 until a tentative agreement was reached on Jan 7, 2022, which secured a retroactive 4+% raise to $43.1k for AY 2021-2022. Just a few weeks later (Jan 25, 2022), the Dean of the Graduate School at Princeton announced a nearly 25% raise to $45.6k for the University Fellowship in AY 2022-2023. Due to labor laws, it would likely be illegal for the Dean to cite union activity as a motivation for a raise. However, it is the firm belief of PGSU that these wage increases are motivated by nationwide grad student unionization and the presence of PGSU.
Correction: Following clarification by the grad school, the raise is approximately a 5% raise, not a $5k raise. The original email subject line is reproduced above.
Dear Princeton graduate employee:
Over 1,600 graduate workers on campus—a majority of all graduate workers at Princeton—have signed union cards since we began our union drive two weeks ago. Join us by signing your union card here.
As a result of graduate workers organizing for more power and for a union on campus for the last several years, today, Princeton announced a well-deserved raise for workers. It’s a reflection of both the strength of our campaign and the clarity of our demands—and it’s just a first step in our union’s effort to address all the things graduate workers require to do the research we came here to do.
Today, we saw the base stipend raised for a portion of graduate workers on campus. Yet the new minimum—$47,880—represents a one-time improvement without graduate worker input. It does not offset the fact that some graduate students currently pay 45% of their stipends back to Princeton for housing costs each month. It does not address the systemic power imbalance that we can right with a union. It does not guarantee graduate workers a place to turn to in an emergency.
This is the first of our union wins, but it’s not enough. We need guaranteed affordable housing through graduation. We need a fair, effective grievance procedure. We need more support for international students. We need better healthcare, funded childcare, safe workplaces, and more. We need a union for graduate workers that will allow us to bargain a legally binding contract.
We know these changes will only come through a union contract we bargain with the university.
Join us by signing your union card today!
The Organizing Committee
Princeton Graduate Students United – United Electrical Workers (PGSU-UE)