Gradz R Us

Barry Rene DeCicco bdecicco at
Sun Oct 22 07:27:09 PDT 2000

> From: Dennis R Redmond <dredmond at>
> On Fri, 20 Oct 2000 LeoCasey at wrote:
> > I don't want to sound dismissive, for I do think that grad student
> > unionization is a positive development, but I am also convinced that it is
> > not the center of the revitalization of American labor -- at its best, it
> > offers a lot of ideas and energy for the union movement in higher education.
> Do you know anything about grad unions? Work with one? Know any activists?
> Do you realize how important it is that (1) high-tech temp workers, even
> those with degrees, can be organized, and (2) are gaining the experience
> and tools to go on to radicalize their professions? Your vision of
> unionism is confined to a narrow vision of high school teachers fighting
> to gain the professional respect of, say, engineers. The point is that the
> white collars and blue collars don't matter any more: we're all
> grey-collar workers, slaving away on cubicle farms for the benefit of Wall
> Street rentiers.

The unionization of graduate students is IMHO very representative of one of the two major trends of unionization needed - the unionization of those who consider themselves to be an intellectual elite, but are actually members of a group of professionals being 'proletariatinized'.

They are encouraged to think of themselves in a very non-coporate way as an elite, for whom the rules are different. Meanwhile, the universities think of them in increasingly corporate ways, and like to apply the standard manager-worker rules to them, whenever it suits the universities interests.

They are temps, with their very legal status as workers fought by their employers, who certainly think of grad students as employees when it suits the universities.

Et cetera, et cetera.


[the other major trend is the unionization of those who are on the flat-out bottom of the hierarchy, and don't have any illusions about it]

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