grad student unionizing

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Mon Dec 7 18:42:56 PST 1998

The most credible argument is the effect on undergrads. The rhetoric of grad organizing is that "TA working conditions are undergrad learning conditions" has some credibility, but in a system of zero-sum resources in many universities, higher TA salaries can just mean fewer TAs per student or the substitution of "readers" for full TA sections.

This is not separate from the general problem of public sector union workers being directly being employed by the citizenry, but is more acute because of the intimate relationship of student "consumers" versus TA workers.

Grad unionism (like most public unionism) has to be tied to broader social unionism or else it just is one rather elite part of the workforce striking against the rest of the (usually still elite) working class.

At Berkeley, being part of the UAW left most of the grad unionists rather uncritically identifying with private sector unionism without much discussion of the rather dramatically different realities of public sector unionism.

--Nathan Newman

-----Original Message----- From: Frances Bolton (PHI) <fbolton at> To: lbo-talk at <lbo-talk at> Date: Monday, December 07, 1998 9:18 PM Subject: grad student unionizing

Has anyone (Tom L., Dennis?) come across any *credible* arguments against grad student unionizing? I am supposed to be chairing a panel on grad student unions next month at the AHA (Amer. Hist. Assoc--I'm there as the Token Woman) and my role is to give good & compelling reasons as to why grad sudents shouldn't organize. My initial strategy was going to be to talk about the prob. of being in a union that is affiliated with the faculty--but I want to try to avoid talking about my own union since another panelist is also a member of it. I do not consider the "grad students are not really employees" argument credible. Maybe if I do something on adjuncts? Any ideas? Anyone I could read that might inspire me?


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