Ruling Pushes Door to Grad-Student Unions ‘Wide Open’

Peter Schmidt, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Aug 24, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

While a graduate student association president I spent two years working to unionize graduate teaching assistants. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful. Not because of law - unionization is much easier in Canada and contributes greatly to our more equitable society. No, even with the sanction of law and support of a national labour union, the difference in power between professor and graduate student was too great. It's hard to go on strike against the person who is grading your thesis. Still, I wish graduate students in the U.S. well. Theirs is a long row to hoe, and it will take superhuman effort in a labour-unfriendly environment to achieve something like a living wage. This new ruling, at least, makes it possible. Though, of course, the rich will resist it nonetheless.

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