Should I be worried about CGSU and their non-Cornell affiliates?

Date: March 2017


Dear Deans,

In my office, some of the graduate students are in favor of CGSU and have been actively recruiting in my department.

I am worried about the lies they are perpetrating in order to get more people to sign the membership cards. They portray the plight of grad students as if the support provided by Cornell is lacking.

But above all: should I be worried that some CGSU representatives are not affiliated with Cornell nor are grad students? Should they even be trusted to handle important issues as these, considering that if a union is formed, part of the fees we have to pay will end up in their pockets?


Student distressed about CGSU


Dear Student Distressed About CGSU:

Thank you for your note. I’m sorry that you, or any students, are feeling distress related to the unionization campaign. 

Regarding your questions, yes, CGSU/AFT/NYSUT do have paid union organizers on campus, perhaps as many as a dozen based on the names of paid organizers the union provided to the university. 

Regarding dues, you can find information about the magnitude of AFT/NYSUT dues on the contracts, dues, and eligibility page, but that chart only includes AFT/NYSUT dues, not any additional dues that CGSU might add on (the additional amount would be up to CGSU to determine). In most cases, dues are automatically deducted out of each worker’s paycheck and given directly to the union … in this case, some to AFT, some to NYSUT, and some to CGSU. The unions would have to provide information about what the dues are used for, we don’t have that information. 

As a reminder, you can find facts about graduate student benefits and policies on the policies page in case you are concerned that stories you are hearing from others many not be factual.



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