Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Grad Students at Yale and Columbia Strike

UIUC, after many years of organizing, unionized and got a contract in the last couple of years, a topic on which I blogged. From discussions in the comments of this post, it looks like soc grads at Wisconsin could take some of these complaints to their union, which led the grad employee union movement by organizing in 1969. Unions have grievance procedures which would strongly encourage that many working grievances be addressed if the department is really of no help.

Our fellow grads at Yale and Columbia are striking to be recognized as a union. You can Take Action: Freedom of Association is a Human Right! and send a letter to the administrations of these fine institutions of higher learning in support of graduate employee's right to be recognized.


At 9:10 AM, Blogger tina said...

Thanks for the link, Erin. When I was a grad student at NYU, we formed a union, leaning a lot on the efforts of the students at Yale, who had been fighting much longer than we had.

NYU's union has won significant improvements in wages and working conditions there. It is time for Yale to reap some of the benefits of its years of hard work.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Our union has also helped waive more fees, get better health care, and stopped a salary freeze. We definitely get paid better here than a lot of other places, especially when taking into account the cost of living.

I'd also like to see adjunct/visiting professors have more unions. It seems they have even less negotiating power than graduate students.

That picture is awesome!!

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Adam said...

Yeah, before the union I wasn't getting richer fast enough. Now my net worth increases even MORE each month, and I only work half-time.

I'm sure the undergrads (and their parents) don't mind the huge increases in tuition. Somebody needs to pay for our rights of cheap healthcare and maternity leave.... might as well be them.

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Adam - It is a common misconception that graduate students netting less than (or close to, depending on year/appointment) $12,000 for teaching or grading 90-150 students raises tuition for undergraduates.

In fact, having graduate students teach (which at UIUC has been increasing over the past few years) reduces the cost the university incurs to educate undergraduates.

So why is tuition being increased every year? One place you might want to start, if you are concerned about salaries, are the raises administrators vote to give themselves (most already make six figures - their salaries are public, just like graduate students and faculty, if you are curious).

While having the $150 McKinley fee waived is very helpful for those of us who make around $12000, it doesn't amount to much of anything for your tuition.

Understanding tuition increases and the way the university is run as a business is a very good topic, I encourage you to research it thoroughly.

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Adam said...

Hmm... I understand that graduate students are cheaper than professors, but I don't understand why raising the salary for TA's would reduce tuition. If the TA pay increase reduces the salary difference between TA's and professors, but the actual quality of TA's and professors remain unchanged, the university should increase the percentage of teaching done by professors.

But it sounds like you are just making the point that TA's are cheaper than professors, which is certainly true. My point was that increasing salaries for TA's increases tuition for undergraduates.

I have looked into other causes of tuition increase though. The university has various offices, like the office of LGBT concerns, which had a budget explosion from $52,935 in '04 to $132,935 '05.

And I'm working on a story about Campus Rec.. they spend $8 million of student fees each year - and that's without factoring in the renovation project.

Thanks for the encouragement!

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