My name is Stepp, and I’m a 5th-year in Environmental Engineering, also on the bargaining team. I’m writing with an update from yesterday’s bargaining session, where Graduate Student Workers (GSWs) won a Tentative Agreement (TA) on Union Security! This TA will ensure that GSWs have the resources necessary to enforce our contract and maintain a strong union capable of taking on USC’s billion-dollar apparatus and winning. Learn more here about why a union shop is so important. Unfortunately, this TA was not accompanied by meaningful progress from USC admin on Wages or Nondiscrimination. 

For full updates, check out the tracker.


  • Historic, industry-leading TA on Union Security

  • Another lowball wages offer from USC admin

  • No USC admin counter on Nondiscrimination and harassment, still maintaining their indefensible position

  • Bargaining heating up: additional sessions today and tomorrow

  • Strike deadline November 28th: fair deal, or thousands of us walk

After three months of non-response from USC admin on Union Security, last week, 13 LA City Councilmembers, the LA City Controller, and our State Senator sent letters to USC admin urging them to come to the table with fair offers on Nondiscrimination and Union Security. This followed the United for Workplace Justice Rally in August, where over 300 GSWs hand-delivered a letter signed by a majority of GSWs demanding a union shop. Graduate Student Workers made USC admin feel the heat on this issue, and we won big. 

The Union Security TA is one of the strongest in the country, guaranteeing Graduate Student Workers the ability to pool our resources together, enforce our contract, and build a strong and vibrant union. USC admin joined other universities in fighting hard to prevent GSWs from deciding to form a union and contribute our fair share, but we won. To read more about the importance of union dues and a union shop in building a strong union, check out the FAQ and the Dues Op-Ed.

At yesterday’s session, USC administration did not make meaningful movement on Nondiscrimination or wages. Admin again made no counter-proposal on Nondiscrimination, maintaining their position that our protections from harassment and discrimination should be uniquely carved out from the grievance procedure. GSWs are united in demanding arbitrable protections, and are prepared to strike to win them. 

Additionally, USC admin responded to the bargaining team’s wages proposal today with another lowball offer. We GSWs will not settle for an offer that provides no additional wage supplement for this academic year, a minimum stipend for next year that still fails to address cost-of-living concerns, and below-inflation wage adjustments for subsequent years. Again, if USC doesn’t remedy their bargaining behavior and come to the table with a fair offer before the 28th, thousands of GSWs will walk off the job and onto the picket lines.

There are bargaining sessions this afternoon (Nov 21) and Wednesday morning (Nov 22) ahead of the November 28th strike deadline. RSVP here if you’d like to attend. 

In preparation for the strike, make sure to sign up to be a strike captain and help organize your peers and labmates. Together, Graduate Student Workers can build on our historic achievements and win a great first contract. 

In solidarity,
Stepp Mayes