Dear Members of the GSAS Community,

I write to you this morning regarding an issue that has the potential to mark a change in the relationship among Fordham and some of its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students. The Communications Workers of America (CWA)—a labor union—has expressed interest in representing GSAS students who receive remuneration from Fordham in exchange for performing duties for the University.

The educational relationship between students and the University is, especially at the graduate level, foundational to our intellectual community and to our commitment to promoting learning and wisdom through research and scholarship. Therefore, any development that may affect graduate education should be examined comprehensively. As conversations about union representation move forward, the University’s desire is to create the conditions that will allow each GSAS student to discern and arrive at an individual well-informed opinion.

I would like to address two important matters at the outset. Firstly, the University fully respects the right of graduate students to form a union through the election process. Fordham also respects the right of each student to reach a conscientious judgment about the matter. Following the most recent NLRB election involving Fordham employees, we received feedback from some members of the community who felt the University’s relative silence deprived them of information they wished they had prior to the vote. Therefore, I am providing here a link to additional information about union representation and the upcoming election.

Secondly, because union representation can affect the relationship between students and the University, it is important for everyone to understand the union election process. The CWA has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking that an election be held among “All Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student employees who receive remuneration for services (including hourly wages or stipends) from Fordham University and/or GSAS.” This election will be the sole opportunity for each eligible voter to indicate if they wish to be represented by the CWA. The election will be decided by a majority of those eligible voters who vote, and its results will be binding on all eligible voters, regardless of how or whether they voted. Its results will also be binding on future GSAS students who receive remuneration for their duties. 

Please be assured of Fordham’s support and respect for all the members of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences community. This election is a momentous occasion for our community. I urge all eligible students to vote and make their voices heard.


Dennis C. Jacobs
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs