Fall Quarter update

Hey GSU members,

Thanks to everyone for coming out to our quarterly members’ meeting this week. We had 77 people come, which makes it the largest meeting we’ve ever had. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a quick rundown.

We started out talking about what we’ve won over the past few years, and about the great diversity of our union. We include everyone from first to ninth-years, from the sciences to the Divinity School. We’re doing a vast range of work, from research and teaching assistantships to lecturing, working in the library, and teaching off-campus. And although there’s a lot that people are happy about — the camaraderie, the intellectual life, the chance to teach — we also face some very real workplace issues, like high student fees, absent disability services, problematic health care, non-existent childcare, and salaries that don’t rise with the cost of living. After that, we also face a bad job market and a structural decline in tenured academic work. As Kaya put it: “many of us are immediately precarious — in terms of our jobs and working conditions — and we’re also more broadly precarious, since we’re entering a system that’s crumbling underneath us.”

Fortunately, there’s an excellent chance that, sometime this year, the National Labor Relations Board will rule that graduate students like us have the right to seek legal recognition of our right to collective bargaining. So we talked a little about where we see our union going. We want to get a seat at the bargaining table, where we can negotiate with the administration for better working conditions. But since we’re both students and workers, we also want to keep our union broadly inclusive, and to stay open to a wide range of ways of improving campus culture.

Case in point: next week, we’re forming a working group to start talking about gender and racial equity on campus. “We want to be the union that people want us to be,” said one organizer toward the end of the meeting. “An injury to one is an injury to all,” said another. There’s so much to do, and a lot of stuff already happening.

So write us a note if you want to keep talking. Or sign up on our website to do stuff. Either way, we’ll see you soon!

P.S. We’re really grateful to Anna, Fabian, Ishan, Becca and everyone else who made dinner for the meeting. And to University Church for letting us meet in their Fellowship Hall.