Press Release

December 5, 2022

Brown University Undergraduate Teaching Assistants Are Unionizing

Providence, RI - The undergraduate teaching assistants in the Department of Computer Science at Brown University have announced their decision to file for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board and are seeking voluntary recognition from Brown.

“Over 65% of all TAs have signed union authorization cards, giving us a supermajority of support,” said Colton Rusch, an organizer with the group and a 7-semester TA. “Given the overwhelming support from TAs, we expect Brown to voluntarily recognize our right to organize and negotiate as workers. We call on them not to engage in any anti-union action.”

The UTAs will be forming the Teaching Assistant Labor Organization (TALO) as a part of Brown’s Graduate Labor Organization (GLO) to improve working conditions and hold their employers accountable.

The TAs are seeking higher wages, better working conditions, and a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

“CS TAs at Brown are systematically exploited and underpaid,” said Harshini Venkatachalam, another organizer, a 6-semester TA. “While there are stated limits on TA working hours, a majority of the TAs we’ve surveyed report frequently working overtime. A majority also report having logged fewer hours than they’ve worked, often for fear of retaliation. Many TAs play the role of professors: writing handouts, rubrics, and lecture slides, and in some cases giving entire lectures. And we’re still paid less than TAs in many peer institutions such as Harvard and Yale.”

As part of a union, the CS TAs will be able to negotiate directly with the university to secure higher wages and systems of accountability to ensure that TAs aren’t required to do unreasonable work or work excessive hours.

Undergraduate workers at many of Brown’s peer institutions have recently formed unions. Last Spring, Wesleyan College voluntarily recognized a union of its undergraduate workers. Harvard’s undergraduate teaching fellows are also unionized through their graduate union.

Brown University is a private research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the United States, with a strong emphasis on undergraduate teaching and research.

For more information, contact the TALO organizing committee at