Statement on Recent Protests and Police Response

Dear fellow PhD Student-Workers,

Emory’s decision to invite violent police response to a demonstration held predominantly by Emory community members, including PhD student-workers, is unacceptable and creates unsafe working conditions at our university. We rebuke President Fenves’ misrepresentation of these protestors as “largely not affiliated with Emory.” We denounce the university’s decision to call Georgia State Patrol and the Atlanta Police Department on Emory community members and are outraged by the use of brutal policing tactics, including chemical irritants, reports of rubber bullets, and tasers. We affirm the rights of Emory University students, faculty, and staff to openly protest as part of a healthy and safe working environment. We are also concerned that Emory’s actions may have dangerous consequences for freedom of speech and academic integrity in our classrooms and the wider campus.

As the collective bargaining representative of PhD student-workers, we are demanding that Emory provide information related to their response to the protests. This will allow us to formulate proposals to protect our workplace safety and prevent violence on campus.

While we as a unionized body are not taking a position for striking, individual members may choose to do so. PhD graduate workers (e.g. as researchers, teaching assistants, and instructors) who make the choice to withhold their labor due to the effects of violence on workplace safety are protected from disciplinary action under the National Labor Relations Act.

As a reminder, Weingarten rights are in effect for PhD student-workers. If a manager, such as an advisor, department chair, or administrator, wants to ask you about something that you believe could lead to your discipline, you have the right to ask for a union representative by saying, “I want a union representative.” Emory is required to oblige and reschedule the meeting accordingly. You can reach trained representatives by contacting us at

Emory’s repressive actions are deeply troubling. We uphold the rights of PhD student-workers to a violence-free work environment and will leverage our position as a legally recognized union to ensure the safety of our workers and the Emory community at large.

In solidarity,