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Dartmouth Graduate Student Union Reaches Contract Deal with College

Published Wednesday Jul 3, 2024

Author Christina Dolan, Valley News

Genevieve Goebel, a member of the Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth (GOLD-UE) bargaining committee, answers questions about the union's proposed contract for chemistry PhD Vedang Puranik, right, prior to the contract's voting deadline in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, June 29, 2024. After a 59-day strike, union members voted to ratify a three-year contract that guarantees a $47,000 stipend with an annual 3% cost of living adjustment. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — James M. Patterson

HANOVER — After nearly a year of negotiating and a 60-day strike, Dartmouth College and its graduate student union have reached their first contract agreement.

Union members voted Friday evening to ratify the contract.

The contract marks the conclusion of talks between the Dartmouth administrators and the Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth, or GOLD-UE, which was formed in April, 2023. The union includes roughly 800 members who are students working as research and teaching assistants while pursuing their graduate degrees.

“People are very proud of the wins we made,” Dartmouth graduate student and member of the bargaining committee David Freeman said Friday. “There’s still work to be done, but we made a lot of progress,” he added. 

Graduate student workers are currently paid roughly $40,000 per year. They are eligible for the Dartmouth student health care plan, which offers limited vision insurance and no dental insurance or dependent health care.

The three-year contract raises the stipend to $47,000, with a guaranteed cost of living adjustment of 3% annually. It also includes an enhanced benefit package, which according to Dartmouth is valued at $129,035 for the 2023-24 academic year. That package includes full dental coverage, paid medical leave, and a 40% contribution by the college to dependent health care premiums. 

The agreement “reflects our commitment to supporting our graduate students while maintaining the institutions’s core values and operational needs,” Dartmouth Provost David Kotz said in a letter to the graduate school last Wednesday.

The contract also guarantees financial assistance to international students for visa fees and required travel overseas. It mandates neutral arbitration of disputes and includes language precisely defining job duties in an effort to more clearly delineate the sometimes-murky line between employee and student. 

GOLD-UE’s primary demands had been an increased stipend that includes a cost of living adjustment, greater access to affordable child care and more comprehensive health benefits.

On May 1 — International Workers’ Day — union members went on strike, leaving classrooms and labs without teaching and research assistants, in order to force progress on a negotiations. 

“We’re asking for a very, very small amount of money from Dartmouth. It doesn’t even register compared to the scale of the endowment,” Logan Mann, a member of the students’ seven-member bargaining team, said in early June. Dartmouth’s endowment is roughly $8 billion, according to the college’s 2023 financial report.

“We started the union with a pretty straightforward goal of just being able to afford to live where we already work,” Mann said last month. 

Dartmouth graduate students are part of a recent upsurge in unionization in higher education. “Virtually all of our higher ed collective bargaining units have been organized in the last four years,” UE Communications Director Jonathan Kissam said Friday.

He attributed the increase to a 2016 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that allowed private university graduate students to unionize. Prior to 2016, graduate students were categorized as students instead of workers and therefor not eligible to collectively bargain.

“I’m really proud that we won this. It’s a dramatic improvement to the way things have been,” Genevieve Goebel, a member of the GOLD-UE bargaining committee, said in an informational meeting for graduate students Friday afternoon.

Christina Dolan can be reached at or 603-727-3208.

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