Late Friday afternoon, on the eve of the new academic year, the University administration requested that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) review its election order for University of Chicago graduate employees. Continuing its anti-democratic stalling tactics, the administration also requested that the Board either stay our election or impound our ballots. The admin seeks to block our voices from being heard through the ballot box.
The timing of the filing was no accident. The administration waited until it was sure that the Senate would confirm William Emanuel, a Trump administration appointee to the national NLRB, in the hopes that the new anti-worker majority on the Board would reverse the 2016 decision that recognized graduate workers at private universities as employees eligible for collective bargaining.
The University of Chicago touts itself as a home for free inquiry and debate; the university administration has long called for rigorous and informed discussion of grad unionization. But this lofty rhetoric has vanished in the face of the admin’s recent actions. It uses specious arguments such as “most of their experiments fail” to discount our value to the institution, while insinuating that unionization would damage the relationships that graduate students have with our PI’s and advisors (despite peer-reviewed research to the contrary). Now, having been ordered to hold an election by the NLRB Regional Director, the administration wants to simply deny grad workers the right to choose a union.
The administration’s actions send an unmistakable message to graduate employees. Graduate workers teach courses, conduct research, and perform other work that make the University of Chicago a world-renowned institution. But grads are not valued as equal or capable members of our community; we evidently cannot even be trusted to vote on whether or not to vote for a union. Our message back to the admin: You can’t silence us!
If you agree that we deserve a voice through a union, please stand with your colleagues and sign our VOTE YES petition.