Digest: Graduate Students Organizing Around the US

CGSU members are following major events around the country right now which concern directly the status of graduate student unions at major universities. While the union is dedicated to promoting self-advocacy of graduate students at Cornell specifically, the status of graduate students across the nation are connected in fundamental ways.

At the UC schools, graduate students last Wednesday went on strike. According to the Daily Californian,

Student academic employees, professors and undergraduate students stationed themselves in solidarity at the entrance of Sproul Plaza on the second and final day of a statewide strike against alleged unfair labor practices.

The statewide protest began Wednesday after a strike call was issued by the UC Student Workers Union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, a union made up of 12,000 teaching assistants, readers and graders across the UC system. The union has been heavily negotiating with the university on issues such as class size, wages, undocumented graduate student compensation and family benefits. They now contend that their demands have been met with intimidation.

Throughout Thursday, chants of, “Hey hey, ho ho, intimidation has got to go!” echoed across Sproul Plaza — a reaction to what the union calls unfair labor practices at the hands of UC administrators.

“The strike is not about the contract,” said Robert Cavooris, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student and union representative. “Workers don’t feel safe exercising their rights — that is why we’re striking.”

To read a statement by the union, check out their statement at Jacobin Magazine.




At Northwestern,  the National Labor Relations Board has sided with the football players’ bid to unionize, against enormous pressure from the administration and the NCAA otherwise. According to the New York Times,

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that a group of Northwestern football players were employees of the university and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively.

For decades, the major college sports have functioned on the bedrock principle of the student-athlete, with players receiving scholarships to pay for their education in exchange for their hours of practicing and competing for their university. But Peter Ohr, the regional N.L.R.B. director, tore down that familiar construct in a 24-page decision.