Grad Workers Rising: May Day Solidarity Statement with CGEU

We are members of the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions, a body that represents unionized graduate workers throughout the United States and Canada, including grad workers undertaking campaigns to unionize who have not yet achieved recognition. We are course instructors; researchers; teaching & research assistants; student affairs, advising, and residence life staffers; tutors, readers, lab supervisors, and graders. We are graduate student-workers. This May Day, members of CGEU stand together to demand collective bargaining rights and fair, socially just contracts for every single graduate worker in North America, and all workers in higher education worldwide. Coordinated May Day actions, social media, and events will take place across the SUNY system as well as at UWisconsin Madison, UMass Amherst, Rutgers University, and other schools across the US and Canada on May 1st, 2014.

Whether grad student-workers have a union determines much about our working conditions and salaries, going beyond wages and hours to include whether we are formally protected from workplace and hiring discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in a way that is actually enforceable. Unions give us concrete, tangible power in bureaucratic workplaces whose administrators would otherwise see each of us only as a collection of financial transactions and numbers. Despite rhetoric we often hear about a walled-off “ivory tower,” the forces of economic crisis directly shape the reality of working and studying for faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate workers alike.

As universities have begun to function more like large businesses and state and federal financial support for public higher education has been slashed, graduate workers nationwide have felt the sizes of the classes we teach grow and the funding pools for our assistantships shrink. In the Northeastern US, this has resulted in a renewed movement toward unionizing graduate workers, and more energy toward bargaining strong contracts for those of us who are already organized. Grad workers at University of Connecticut and New York University are bargaining brand new contracts this year, while the long-unionized grad workers at the three University of Massachusetts schools (Amherst, Boston, and Lowell) and across the SUNY system are preparing to bargain new, significantly stronger contracts in the coming months. Members of UAW2865 in the University of California system continue to fight for a fair contract including the right to bargain over class size. Yale University and Brown University graduate workers have renewed their fight for union recognition.

Academic workers face similar increased demands on our time and energy to workers in other industries, along with the same stagnating wages. Academic workers of color, women, international students, and members of the LGBTQI community face institutionalized discrimination and permissive attitude toward harassment, much like workers in other industries. In 2012, a federal bill stripped graduate students of all access to federal subsidized loans and cut the six-month grace period before repayment must begin; this consigns many of us to a lifetime of debt, and an extraordinarily stressful transition out of graduate school.

The divisions between graduate workers and workers in other industries are fabricated, porous, and finite: graduate education does not last forever, and we go into a huge range of workplaces and positions after school. Strong, mobilized graduate unions serve as a consistent source of workers in a variety of fields who have had the opportunity to develop union consciousness, who have learned to care about their fellow workers, have experience in democratically-run organizations, and are willing to fight together with others for systemic change. We neither suffer nor succeed in isolation; our struggle is all workers’ struggle, and your struggle is ours.

Matt at May Day IMG_2093 IMG_2068 IMG_2066

GEO Membership Meeting

We have had to postpone the Thursday, February 7 membership meeting to Monday, February 11 as a result of “Winter Storm Nemo“.  Please stay safe and warm.

Where: Campus Center room 803
When: Monday, February 11th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Come to the first GEO Membership meeting of the semester! This is a great way to get involved with GEO and meet fellow union members. We will be discussing department-specific issues, approving the budget, and more! Refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Transgender Ally Training

When:Tuesday, November 27 from 3-5PM
Where: Campus Center 904-908
What: Receive training on how to be of better support and a resource to transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming students, colleagues, & community members.

Bowling Party – Part 2!

This will be a party for UAW Members, Friends and Family, for a fun night out in Northampton on October 4 from 6:30-8:30PM! Spread the word to your coworkers and let us know if you will be attending (and how many guests you will bring). We need to have a count to reserve lanes so please let us know as soon as you can.

The party will consist of 2 hours of unlimited bowling, free shoe rental and light refreshments (generally chips & salsa, veggie platter, etc and pitchers of soft drinks). The Bowling Alley also has a full bar and kitchen that will be open for people to take advantage of on their own.

If you enjoy this bowling event, it won’t have to end there. Starting Thursday, October 11th at 6:30 pm you can join The UAW “Friends and Family” 8 For 8 League. UAW has worked with Spare Time Bowling to bring you a great offer. 8 weeks of bowling for $8/week. For those who commit to join the league, Spare Time will give each league member a free bowling ball! You can sign up at the bowling alley

Come out October 4th and have some fun! Please RSVP for the party to info@uaw2322.org or 413.534.7600.