Immigration Article FAQ

On October 31st, the GSWOC-UAW Bargaining Team and the USC Administration reached a historic Tentative Agreement on an article to protect international Graduate Student Workers (GSWs). This article creates a legal fund for international GSWs facing visa issues and enshrines unprecedented protections against unjust and discriminatory termination. Through years of organizing, our massive United for Workplace Justice letter delivery this August, and our continued efforts to win a great first contract, USC GSWs have won one of the best articles in the industry in our first contract.

This brief FAQ is intended to help GSWs learn more about the support and protections provided by this article, and to underscore the need to win arbitrable protections from workplace discrimination, harassment, & bullying.

To read the full language included in the Immigration article, click this link

What improvements does the Immigration article make?

This article makes several improvements to protections and support systems in place for international GSWs.

  • The creation of an international GSW legal fund, with an initial funding level of $10,000 that will roll over up to $20,000 for subsequent years. International GSWs can apply for funding annually of up to $1,000 to cover fees and expenses incurred to reinstate an F-1 or J-1 visa.
  • New re-hiring protections for International GSWs who lose visa status, which ensures that USC must make efforts to re-hire GSWs who are eligible for an available position
  • A guarantee that USC will hold two tax workshops per year
  • Guaranteed paid time off to attend visa/immigration proceedings of ourselves, our spouses, domestic partners, children, and parents
  • Enforceable language establishing the right of international GSWs to keep USC from violating their privacy in connection with any immigration investigation or proceeding
  • Enforceable language codifying the Office of International Services (OIS) responsibility to international GSWs, and allowing international GSWs to file grievances (an independent process to win recourse under the contract 有法律效益的独立申诉仲裁程序) when OIS fails to carry out those responsibilities

Who will be eligible to apply to the legal fund?

Any International GSW who loses visa status. Fees or expenses for initial visas are not eligible for reimbursement.

Is there enough money in the legal fund?

According to USC, in the past year, only three students lost visa status. Unless something drastic changes, the fund should contain plenty of funding to help any international GSW who requires financial assistance reinstating a visa.

How would the re-employment rights included in this article be enforced?

With this language, international GSWs who regain visa status have the right to be re-hired when a position is available and when we’re qualified for the available position. If USC does not make a “reasonable attempt” to re-hire us, international GSWs can file a grievance in response to this.

We can look to other universities with similar language in their contract to illustrate how this re-employment language can be enforced. Here is one example from the University of California, where UAW 5810 postdocs won similar language in their contract: 

A UCSF international postdoc was terminated because their PI said there wasn’t enough funding. The postdoc won a reversal because 1) there was funding, and 2) the layoff was considered to be discriminatory.

What else is still being bargained over that affects international GSWs?

As of October 31st, critical articles are still on the bargaining table. Beyond winning a fair wage, adequate childcare benefits, and a union shop, it is critical that international Graduate Student Workers win arbitrable protections that allow us to file grievances when workers are discriminated against — including when we’re discriminated against based on our visa status. 

USC admin’s latest proposal on Nondiscrimination still includes a clause stating that any protections from workplace abuse guaranteed in the contract will not be grievable. This essentially means not enforceable under the contract.

For the Immigration article to have its full enforceable effect, USC administration must back down from their insulting position that workplace abuse should be carved out of the grievance process. The next stage of the fight for a just workplace for international GSWs is to win arbitrable Nondiscrimination protections.

Check out the new “Our Fight” webpage for more information