In the context of our union campaign, organizing means forming a strong collective of graduate student employees to build solidarity in order to better advocate for our interests and the improved university community we would like to create. With twelve schools that operate largely independent of one another, Penn grads work within a relatively decentralized system, making it hard to know where our collective interests converge. Uniting graduate student employees across their departmental homes to create a larger whole therefore constitutes a key element of the union’s organizing process.
GET-UP is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which provides us with resources to make our campaign possible and assists us in coordinating our organizing strategy. The most basic level of our organizing efforts involve engaging in one-on-one conversations with our fellow graduate student employees to both learn about their needs and share information about the benefits of graduate student unionization. Through these conversations, GET-UP activists aim to connect all graduate student employees to the union campaign with the ultimate goal of creating a democratic coalition of graduate student employees. As the campaign grows and reaches out to more schools and departments, GET-UP has been working to identify individuals with time to serve as the point person for their department. In that role, these individuals help coordinate outreach to their own departments, and become important sources of information about the campaign for their own graduate group. This organizing structure is separate from decision making for our union campaign; graduate students who become members of the union can vote on major decisions as a part of General Body meetings. For more information on the institutional structures of GET-UP, including committees and working groups, please see our Standing Committees and Working Groups.