Is it legal to un-unionize?

Date: March 2017


Dear Deans,

I’m sorry if this has already been answered, but I haven’t come across any discussion on how to leave a union once you’re in it. Say grads decide to unionize, and a couple of years down the line they don’t like it anymore. Or find that it didn’t yield any improvements to anything. Is it even legal, to un-unionize?


Curious Graduate Student


Dear Curious Graduate Student,

Thank you very much for your question. I appreciate that you are thinking carefully about the implications of the upcoming union representation election, and considering the longer-term consequences. Your question about decertifying a union is addressed in the special considerations section of the union FAQ

Once a union is voted into place, it remains in that position indefinitely. The process to decertify (remove) a union requires a new vote, and is a complex process that may take several years to complete. Until a union is decertified, it will continue to be the exclusive representative for all Ithaca and Geneva campus-based Graduate School students on Policy 1.3 assistantship appointments, including those who enroll at Cornell in the future.

The process to remove or decertify a union requires a vote similar to the election procedure to vote the union in. Generally, a decertification vote cannot be held until one year after the union is voted in. If a bargaining agreement is reached with the parties, no new election can occur for the life of that agreement or three years.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth 
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School