Friday, July 24, 2009

Graduate Student Unions

Via the LRC Blog:


The Unionizing Trend

Posted by Kathryn Muratore on July 24, 2009 12:41 PM

A number of years ago, a trend started with the unionizing of graduate students (usually in their function as paid research or teaching assistants). Now, postdoctoral fellows* are joining the fun.

In the graduate student world, it is usually the students of humanities and arts who lead the fight, with science students reluctantly or forcibly included. Students in the natural sciences are paid comparatively well for their services. Let me just speak to two aspects of my own experience as a unionized graduate student instructor. My pay during the semesters that I taught was lower than during semesters in which I took classes and/or did research (although I never confirmed this was because of the union, I only suspected as much). A percentage of my wages automatically was garnered and paid to the union, but did not count as dues and so, I was not a voting member – just forcibly robbed.

Overall, this drive to unionize comes out of a “poor me” mentality. Meanwhile, these are the most highly educated people, are disproportionately privileged, and have higher earning potentials than the average citizen. They choose to forego other opportunities in order to advance their careers and then they use the arm of the state to extract more money from taxpayers. (First, stipends are often paid from federal grants, and second, state schools are the ones that tend to unionize).


*A training fellowship after receiving your PhD is a virtual necessity for chemists and biologists in their career pursuits. Such a fellowship is much less common, if it exists at all, in other disciplines

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