United Together: A Guide to Grad Unions
In 2016, The National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) ruled that graduate workers at private universities had the right to form unions. Since then, many private universities have won elections, including Boston College, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University.
But Administrations have refused to bargain with these graduate unions. And so, schools such as the University of Chicago (Thorp, 2018) and the University of Pennsylvania (Suh & Tan, 2018) have recalled their victories, claiming they will not pursue their victories through the NLRB.
So - why did they unionize, why are they pausing their efforts through legal means, and – what does that mean for the future?
Research shows that students at unionized schools have better relations with their mentors than those at non-unionized schools (Rogers, Eaton, & Voos, 2013). 28 public institutions have been unionized for many years, including some of the highest caliber schools of the nation including University of California Berkeley, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin.
So – talk to your colleagues. Find out their stories. Find out what could be better in both their and your lives. Then unite and demand what you deserve.
Why Have They Stopped
They aren’t giving up their cause. They’ll continue to demonstrate and build community support. But what they’ve done is tied their hands for the betterment of the group. By relinquishing their democratically earned recognition, they have performed the highest level of sacrifice - to continue to allow a restriction of their rights, so that the rights of others cannot be taken away. That is the truest manifestation of a union – a constant focus on what is best for everyone.
What Does This Mean For the Future
Cantor, D., Fisher, B., Chibnall, S., Townsend, R., Lee, H., Bruce, C., & Thomas, G. (2015). Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. https://www.aau.edu/sites/default/files/%40%20Files/Climate%20Survey/AAU_Campus_Climate_Survey_12_14_15.pdf
Flaherty, C. (2018). Labor groups launch effort on grad student unions. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2018/03/16/labor-groups-launch-effort-grad-student-unions
Rogers, S. E., Eaton, A. E., & Voos, P. B. (2013). Effects of unionization on graduate student employees: Faculty-student relations, academic freedom, and pay. ILR Review, 66(2), 487-510.
Suh, H., & Tan, R. (2018). Penn graduate students have withdrawn their petition to vote for a union. The Daily Pennsylvanian. http://www.thedp.com/article/2018/02/upenn-getup-graduate-students-unionization-union
Thorp, A. (2018). GSU withdraws NLRB case to protect pro-grad union precedent. The Chicago Maroon. https://www.chicagomaroon.com/article/2018/2/14/gsu-withdraws-nlrb-case-hopes-independent-recognit/