Lubabah Chowdhury, Candidate for Graduate Labor Organization (GLO) President

Campaign Platform

I commit to a short- and long-term plan focused on:

  • Immediate, proactive, anti-racist, and feminist responses to crises
  • A strong, equitable, second contract
  • Strengthening our anti-racist, feminist labor organization in the long term
  • A seat at the table with AFL-CIO

Short Term: A commitment to our anti-racist, feminist values and proactive responses to crises

I am committed to:

  • Determining worksites through member feedback, opening nominations and accepting  petitions for Stewards appointed to the Stewards Assembly, as outlined in the  Constitution, by the end of the Spring 2021 semester.
  • Constructing a budget a month prior to the fiscal year and allowing ample time for the  Stewards Assembly to deliberate on the budget, as outlined in the Constitution.
  • Reconvening at the bargaining table in January 2021 and January 2022 prepared to  negotiate a stipend increase.
  • Continuously advocating for clear guidelines around COVID and social distancing (see below)
  • Fighting the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to F-1 student  visas, which would limit international graduate workers’ visas to a period of four, and in  some cases, two years. We also commit to working towards a second contract that materially helps  international graduate students, including:
  • A reimbursement of the visa fee, SEVIS fee and all other fees that might occur in the process of applying for a F-1 student visa.
  • A University-generated checklist available to all accepted students regarding  the visa process and how much it will cost.

Long-Term

Campaigning for a strong, equitable second contract.

I am committed to:

  • Proactive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: GLO has made some excellent gains in our first contract related to COVID-19, including a 2-semester extension for those who have advanced to candidacy and free testing and eventual free vaccination for all graduate student workers. Melody and I will advocate for a 2-semester extension for all graduate student workers currently enrolled at Brown, and ensure Brown administration’s continued commitment to free testing and vaccination. At the department level, we will contribute to ongoing organizing efforts towards the creation of visiting assistant professorships, postdoctoral positions and teaching fellowships to provide employment to graduate student workers in a particularly hostile job market. We look forward to working closely with graduate student leaders within their departments and consistently raising the question about additional funding and job opportunities at department wide meetings and forums.
  • Building inward, building outward: As we increase our capacity for healing harm and  conflict within our union (see below), we look to the task of re-negotiating our contract. Implementing Transformative Justice (TJ) practices within our union will help us build a solid framework for TJ practices that can provide grad workers with an alternative to the arbitration or mediation of harm and conflict that our contract provides us with now.
  • Restorative practices: We want to prioritize the health and well being of grad workers  at all times, but particularly in this moment. We commit to re-negotiating the clear  policies in our current contract regarding medical leave and bereavement leave to include the possibility for a paid year of medical leave and for six (6) days of bereavement leave instead of three (3). We will also advocate for the inclusion of clear policies around vacation and paid time off. I propose that our second contract guarantees graduate student employees fifteen (15) paid vacation days, to be used at the graduate student employee’s discretion and in consultation with their  supervisor(s).
    1. Part of a healthy and fulfilling work environment is also having the resources and  information to fulfill our job requirements as teaching assistants, teaching fellows,  research assistants and proctors. As we endeavor to work under the strained  conditions caused by a global pandemic, we must work together to create  accessible classroom environments for ourselves and for our students. We can  work towards a second contract that makes non-mandatory trainings available for  graduate workers who need help with implementing Student and Employee  Accessibility Services letters for undergraduate students. We will also work towards a second contract that provides a clear process for those graduate student workers seeking need-based and accessibility-based accommodations for themselves.

Strengthening our anti-racist, feminist labor organization

I am committed to:

  • (Immediate Priority) Building a robust Transformative Justice framework for internal grievances: As Transformative Justice proponents and practitioners, we know  that harm and conflict are inevitable byproducts of being in community with others. Our  commitment to the abolition of the police, prisons and the military require us to look  beyond punitive measures for healing harm and conflict between our members. The  Social Justice and Accountability Committee (currently the Social Justice Working Group) has been tasked with drafting a TJ  framework to use within our union, and we commit ourselves to this work whole heartedly.
  • (Early Priority) Establishing a Mutual Aid Network for grad workers: As we face a  second lockdown, it is imperative that we are able to support each other in concrete and  meaningful ways. The Mutual Aid Network would connect those in need with volunteers  in their nearby vicinity for help with purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE),  food, transportation, childcare and other needs. This network will be open to members  and non-members alike.
  • Establishing an Activist Training Fund: Grad workers interested in attending activist  conferences, teach-ins and training could apply to this fund to cover registration fees,  transportation costs, housing and food. Priority will be given to black and indigenous  grad workers.
  • Communications: Our first monthly newsletter came out September 2020. The  Communications team will be tasked with sending out similar monthly reminders and  opportunities to get involved via Action Network. These newsletters will also be posted on bulletin boards on worksites. We also recommit ourselves to our primary method of communication with our members: the organizing conversation. The organizing conversation allows us to understand your particular relationship to our employer while  maintaining your confidentiality and safety. These conversations are the first step to transforming our working conditions here at Brown.
    1. Our communications depend upon grad workers developing a shared  understanding of our history and our praxis. To that end, we will establish a GLO  internet archive, complete with all public communications GLO has put out since  its founding in 2014 and all public communications about GLO from Brown  administration. I will work closely with the Political Director, who has been tasked  with building up this archive as per Article V of the Constitution.
  • Black Lives Matter: We will have a month-long comment period where graduate  workers who self-identify as black and/or indigenous can propose various options for  materially supporting our black and indigenous colleagues, including the possibility of  reimbursing black and indigenous grad workers the difference between agency fees and  member dues and setting aside our COPE fund to support progressive black and  indigenous political candidates. We will then poll affected members to democratically  determine best practices.
  • Building a strong, values-led coalition: GLO endorses Grasping at the Root (GatR), a  coalition of student and community organizations in Providence working towards the  abolition of the police, prisons and the military-industrial complex. Members of the Social  Justice Working Group have helped with crafting GatR’s demands, designing political  education workshops, powermapping, and more. We commit ourselves to continuing to  work closely with this coalition and look forward to fighting together for a better, freer  future.
  • Democratic participation: I plan to use our ability to call referenda to obtain a grad  worker-wide endorsement of GatR’s demands. I also plan to call a referendum on  endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a movement that  responds to the call from Palestinian civil society to use economic pressure to hold Israel  accountable to international human rights law. This referendum would mirror the  successful undergraduate referendum held back in the spring of 2019. As grad workers,  we hold a large stake in the question of Palestinian human rights; it is imperative that we  act accordingly.
  • A clearer election process. I propose that the Stewards’ Assembly select the next  elections committee a full calendar year before the next round of GLO elections, so that  the new committee can begin the intensive process of planning and administering an  election long before it occurs. The elections committee will also be tasked with writing a  set of elections-specific bylaws, which will include clear start and end dates for  candidates’ campaigns and a clear outline of how and when candidates can access  membership lists for campaign purposes. These bylaws will have to be ratified by  membership at least six months before the election. The elections committee will also be  tasked with writing and implementing appropriate disciplinary action if the elections  bylaws are not observed, within the remit of the TJ principles that will govern GLO’s  internal grievance procedure.

A seat at table with AFL-CIO

I am committed to:

  • Building an abolitionist future: As President of GLO, I will take my delegate position to  the various councils and decision-making bodies outlined in the Constitution very  seriously. I am committed to furthering the causes of anti-racism and feminism in these  spaces as well. I commit to the No Cop Unions platform and will vote with other  delegates to eliminate cop unions from the AFL-CIO.

In solidarity,

Lubabah Chowdhury

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