Georgetown University and the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees – American Federation of Teachers (GAGE-AFT) came together in 2020 to establish the first collective bargaining agreement for graduate students in the school’s history. We value our graduate students and their contributions to the Georgetown community, and we are committed to ensuring they are supported during this time of academic formation. Learn more about the history of the GAGE-AFT unionization of graduate student workers at Georgetown.
You will find below resources and answers to the frequently asked questions about graduate student unionization efforts at the Graduate School.
Emergency Assistance Fund
The GAGE-AFT Emergency Assistance Fund (EAF) is designed to alleviate financial hardship for graduate student workers at Georgetown. The EAF is the result of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between Georgetown University and the GAGE-AFT. Learn more about EAF and the application form.Back to Top
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
Georgetown University and the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees – American Federation of Teachers (GAGE-AFT) have come together to accomplish a common objective of providing an exceptional education and research experience for the university’s students and faculty.
Copy of Agreements
- August 18, 2023 – June 30, 2027: Download the “Collective Bargaining Agreement between Georgetown University and GAGE-AFT“
- May 8, 2020 – June 30, 2023: Download the “Collective Bargaining Agreement between Georgetown University and GAGE-AFT“
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Below are the Side Agreements to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Georgetown University and GAGE-AFT in PDF format:
- Hourly Graduate Student Assistant Positions
- Amendment #2
- Spring 2021 Policies
- Protection and Benefits for Graduate Student Assistants During the Pandemic
- Impacts of Change in Teaching Methods During the Pandemic
Implementing the Agreement
The university reached a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with GAGE-AFT which was ratified by the Graduate Student Assistants on May 8, 2020. The CBA applies to enrolled Georgetown Ph.D. and Master’s students in their work as Ph.D. Research Assistants, Ph.D. Teaching Assistants, Ph.D. Teaching Associates, Graduate Research Assistants, Graduate Teaching Assistants, Student Research Assistants and Student Teaching Assistants. It does not apply to their academic work.
It is important to be careful and consistent in distinguishing between purely academic work (governed by existing academic processes) and a student’s service as a graduate assistant (governed by the CBA). For instance, the rate of pay is set by the CBA, but the decision about what course to assign the student is an academic one.
The CBA is a thorough document that specifies the responsibilities of supervisors and graduate assistants in detail. The following represents general guidance you should bear in mind in your work with graduate assistants; please consult the CBA for more specific information.
You can also download the “Guidelines & FAQs for Implementing the Agreement with GAGE-AFT – November 30, 2020”.Back to Top
Before you hire a Master’s graduate assistant:
- You must develop a position description for each classification of employment.
- Positions must be advertised through the Office of Student Employment. Please refer to the CBA for specific requirements of the posting.
- The rate of pay (see below) must be applied.
- You must establish and adhere to a consistent process for reviewing student applications, and must have a rationale for hiring one individual over another.
For Ph.D. graduate assistants, please note that:
- Five-year funded packages are academic decisions made at the time of admission.
- Graduate assistantships outside of the five-year commitment must be advertised within the unit/program; specific requirements for the advertisement are spelled out in the CBA.
- Stipends assume a maximum of fifteen (15) hours per week; the CBA recognizes that research assistantships in the lab are integral to the student’s dissertation research and progress toward degree and may occasionally require additional work.
- Teaching Assistants and Teaching Associates are limited to one 3- or 4-credit course per semester.
- Notice of expectations should be made before the position is filled.
Minimum payment rates are set by the CBA. No other arrangements should be made outside the agreement for students that are hired into these classifications. All students must be paid in a timely manner, and any error in pay must be rectified within three (3) days whenever possible.
- Ph.D. stipends will continue to be appointed and processed through the Graduate School, or through the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education. Minimum Ph.D. stipend rates for the 2023–2024 academic year are as follows:
a. Academic Year (9 months) after August 1 at $38,000
b. Year Round (12 months) after August 1 at $41,420
- Summer school teaching is compensated at a rate of $5,150 a course. Students on academic year (9 months) appointments unable to secure a teaching position will receive $1,100 in summer supplement.
- The minimum hourly rate for graduate assistants is $22.
Under the CBA, graduate assistants are entitled to certain personal days and leaves. It is important that you recognize graduate assistants’ rights to the following:
- Holidays and Personal Time Off
- The university’s academic holiday schedule applies to graduate assistants. The requirements for notice on the part of both supervisor and student in cases where work is essential on holidays are spelled in detail in the CBA.
- Supervisors may not deny a graduate assistant’s request for a reasonable number of days off. The specifics of this provision are set forth in the CBA.
- Medical Leave from Assistantship
- A leave of absence is defined as any period of longer than five (5) consecutive days during which the university excuses a Graduate Student Assistant from their Graduate Student Assistant responsibilities.
- A doctoral Graduate Student Assistant may elect to continue to receive their assistantship stipend during a medical leave of absence of up to six (6) weeks in length in one continuous academic year, or take unpaid leave for an entire semester and defer funding to an additional semester.
- If a student is enrolled in health insurance, it will continue during the leave.
- Parental Leave
- A doctoral Graduate Student Assistant may elect to continue to receive their assistantship stipend for up to eight (8) weeks of paid leave within four months following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child of five years or younger. *This request must be submitted for approval through GMS. The online resource, “Requesting Leave and Time Off for Ph.D. Graduate Students,” provides step-by-step information on how to navigate the request process in GMS.
- Alternatively, a doctoral student can take unpaid leave and defer funding for one semester.
- Family Leave
- A doctoral Graduate Student Assistant may request up to a full semester of family leave. They will not continue to receive their assistantship stipend during the period of family leave, but they will receive an extension of their period of support equal to the duration of their family leave.
Tuition, health coverage, and dental insurance will be part of the benefit package for Ph.D. Graduate Assistants.
The university will develop a formal process for evaluating graduate assistants. More details will be forthcoming as they are available.
The grievance procedure for graduate assistants can be found in detail in the CBA. The grievance procedure is intended to resolve disputes concerning the interpretation, application or claimed violation of a specific term or provision of the CBA. It should not be used to address purely academic issues, which are beyond the scope of the CBA, nor should it be used to resolve issues that do not relate to the specific terms of the CBA. The existing process for resolving grievances around purely academic matters remains in effect.
Resources & Policies
Policy on Graduate Assistants
Other related policy:
- Fall 2020 Policy on Graduate Student Teaching Assistantships, Teaching Associates, and Research Assistantships
Framework for Graduate Student Assistants Working Abroad
View the “Spring 2021 Framework for Graduate Student Assistants Working from Abroad” document.
Other related policy:
Factsheet for Ph.D. Graduate Student Workers Requesting Leave in GMS
This resource factsheet, “Requesting Leave and Time Off for Ph.D. Graduate Students” is to assist in the process of requesting various leave options now available by virtue of the GAGE-AFT Collective Bargaining Agreement.Back to Top
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
These guidelines are for faculty and administrators who are regarded as representatives of University management for purposes of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with GAGE-AFT. The Graduate Student Assistants represented by GAGE-AFT ratified the original CBA on May 8, 2020; a new contract was signed on August 18, 2023, covering a four-year period through June 30, 2027.
Who does GAGE-AFT represent under the CBA?
GAGE-AFT represents graduate students who are enrolled in Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences graduate degree programs (Ph.D. and Masters) and who are serving as Ph.D. Research Assistants, Ph.D. Teaching Assistants, Ph.D. Teaching Associates, Graduate Research Assistants, Graduate Teaching Assistants, Student Research Assistants and Student Teaching Assistants. These titles are collectively referred to as “Graduate Student Assistants.”
Does the CBA apply to Graduate Students Assistants’ academic work?
No, but it is important to be consistent in how we distinguish between academic work and service that Graduate Student Assistants perform. For example, research that is integral to a Research Assistant’s dissertation is considered to be academic work, not service.
Are there limits on the amount of work that can be assigned to Graduate Student Assistants?
Yes, service work that is assigned to Graduate Student Assistants should not exceed an average of 15 hours per week. A student cannot teach more than one course at a maximum of 4 credit hours per semester.
Are there procedures that must be followed when hiring Graduate Student Assistants?
Yes, there is an obligation to post open Master’s-level Graduate Student Assistant positions on the University’s SEO (student employment) website, and the positions must include a description of responsibilities. Ph.D.-level positions must be advertised electronically at the University, School, or Department level, depending on the nature of the position. The CBA will contain additional information about these obligations.
However, these obligations do not apply to positions that are used to fulfill a commitment of support made to a graduate student either (a) at the time of admission or (b) under an existing advising relationship with a faculty member. All decisions regarding what is taught, how it is taught, or where and when it is taught, are academic matters and not subject to the CBA.
Can a Graduate Student Assistant position be canceled?
Yes, but the Graduate Student Assistant should be notified at least two (2) weeks in advance of the cancellation if it is for non-disciplinary reasons.
What are the rules on disciplining Graduate Student Assistants for misconduct?
The CBA does not apply to discipline for academic performance; it only applies to discipline for service-related misconduct or service-related performance. There must be “just cause” for service-related discipline. In general, this means that the Graduate Student Assistant should be afforded notice and an opportunity to respond before discipline is imposed; there should be objective, verifiable evidence of the misconduct or performance issue; the level of discipline should be commensurate with the severity of the offense; and the discipline should be consistent with existing policies and precedent in similar cases.
Are Graduate Student Assistants entitled to representation by GAGE-AFT in the disciplinary process?
Yes, if it is service-related performance or misconduct (not academic performance), a Graduate Student Assistant has the right to request that a GAGE-AFT representative be present during a meeting that could result in discipline. The GAGE-AFT representative may advise and support the Graduate Student Assistant, but they may not interfere with the meeting or obstruct a direct conversation between the University and the Graduate Student Assistant.
What should I do if a grievance is filed under the CBA?
The grievance procedure is intended to resolve disputes concerning the interpretation, application, or claimed violation of a specific term or provision of the CBA. It should not be used to address academic issues, which are beyond the scope of the CBA, nor should it be used to resolve issues that do not related to the specific terms of the CBA.
Before a formal grievance is filed, the Graduate Student Assistant should make an effort to resolve the issue informally with their immediate supervisor. If, however, GAGE-AFT decides to file a formal grievance, that should not be cause for alarm. It just means that the formal process for resolving the grievance has begun.
Step One of the formal grievance process involves a written grievance that is submitted by a representative of GAGE-AFT to the relevant Department Chair or Program Director (or their designee). The written grievance must be submitted within twenty-five (25) working days following reasonable knowledge of the facts giving rise to the grievance. The grievance should identify the facts, including dates, the provisions of the Agreement that are alleged to have been violated, and the desired remedy or resolution. If the grievance does not set forth this information, you should ask the GAGE-AFT representative to provide this information.
The Department Chair or Program Director (or their designee) should schedule a meeting with the GAGE-AFT representative and the aggrieved Graduate Student Assistant within fifteen (15) working days after the grievance is submitted. The purpose of that meeting is to better understand the nature of the claim and the relevant facts. If the grievance cannot be resolved during this meeting, then a written answer should be submitted to GAGE-AFT within fifteen (15) working days after the meeting.
If the grievance progresses beyond Step One, or if you have any other questions about the CBA, please contact Archana Agrawal at firstname.lastname@example.org for further guidance.Back to Top