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OHSU, AFSCME reach agreement to unionize Ph.D. students

OHSU and AFSCME Graduate Researchers United have reached an agreement certifying AFSCME as the bargaining representative for approximately 250 Ph.D. students on stipends in OHSU’s nursing, medical and public health schools.  

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Elena Andresen, Ph.D.

“It is clear that our Ph.D. students desire a union to formalize a dialogue about their needs,” said OHSU Provost Elena Andresen, Ph.D. “They are key contributors to research at OHSU, and we value their contributions. We will work with AFSCME, OHSU Human Resources, and our faculty and staff to smoothly implement this change.” 

“We are pleased that OHSU decided to withdraw their objections. It is clear that graduate students organized for a voice in their workplace. OHSU graduate students are part of a growing movement of professional workers forming unions and they are the last group of graduate students in Oregon to organize,” said Stacy Chamberlain, AFSCME executive director.

OHSU had sought clarity with the Employment Relations Board on whether OHSU Ph.D. students on stipends are considered employees for purposes of collective bargaining. OHSU has since agreed to withdraw its objection, and the ERB hearing scheduled for January has been canceled.

man smiling at camera, wearing a suit
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.

“OHSU has had a long and productive relationship with organized labor and remains committed to supporting all of our graduate student colleagues as they pursue their Ph.D. degrees,” said OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S. “As part of the agreement with AFSCME, OHSU will continue to decide all academic processes, including but not limited to grading and graduation policies, course schedules and class size.”

The first contract negotiations are expected to begin within a few months.

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