Resolution in support of the Chicago Teachers Union

Graduate Students United, University of Chicago
Resolution in Support of the CTU

Whereas all students deserve the right to a quality public education in their neighborhood school, and

Whereas all students deserve smaller class sizes to receive adequate attention from teachers, and

Whereas all students deserve access to a broad and diverse curriculum that includes art, world languages, computer literacy, and physical education, and

Whereas all students deserve support including fully-staffed libraries in all schools, access to social workers, school nurses, therapists and psychologists, and

Whereas teachers deserve to be adequately compensated for their work, and

Whereas the revenue necessary to fund a quality public education can be substantially realized by reallocating resources that go to mostly non-union Charter schools and the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, both of which  currently siphon revenue from public schools, and

Whereas teachers deserve protection against arbitrary dismissal and a fair recall procedure so that the talents and expertise of experienced teachers can be put to the best use serving the students of Chicago, and

Whereas the Chicago Board of Education, among other concessions, is demanding “merit pay” for teachers based on student test scores, despite a consensus among researchers that such scores to not reliably measure a teacher’s ability, and

Whereas the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is standing up for the children of Chicago and for all public employees and unions in this time of budget cutting and union busting, and

Be it resolved that Graduate Students United of the University of Chicago supports the Chicago Teachers Union in its fight to negotiate a contract that addresses all of these issues with the Chicago Board of Education.

Be it further resolved that Graduate Students United communicate such support to its members, including asking them to sign petitions and communicate their support for CTU and its demands to the Chicago Board of Education and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.



GSU News #6

We’re happy to announce the arrival of GSU News #6, “What Work Is.” It includes:

  • Details about GSU’s campaigns in recent months.
  • New briefs about the NLRB, Wisconsin, and Chicago-area organizing.
  • A discussion of the relationship between childcare and feminist politics.
  • A critical analysis of the relationship between the Graduate Aid Initiative and Robert Zimmer’s anti-union views.
  • A proposal for outsourcing administrative services.

You can get a print copy on campus from your departmental organizer, or download the online version (pdf).

In Response to Deputy Provost Deborah Nelson

Dear fellow graduate students,

On November 4th, all of us received a letter from the new Deputy Provost of Graduate Education, Deborah Nelson, seeking to “set in motion a collaborative effort to continue to improve the graduate experience at the University of Chicago” (our emphasis). We welcome this effort by the Provost’s Office and look forward to working with Deputy Provost Nelson in the coming year, but we wish to note that the effort she describes is already underway. Graduate students themselves set it in motion when they founded Graduate Students United in 2007.

In the past four years, GSU has identified a number of issues of tremendous concern to graduate students at the University: access to decent and affordable healthcare and childcare, an end to Advanced Residency Tuition and other punitive fees, and better pay for the work we do here on campus–whether teaching, research, or other labor. We have successfully mobilized around several of these issues, and have won the following major victories:

  • a 100% increase in TA pay, from $1,500 to $3,000 per quarter (in 2008);
  • a 43% increase in pay for lecturers, from $3500 to $5000 (also 2008);
  • service improvements at the U of C Student Care Center (in Winter 2009);
  • a freeze in Advanced Residency tuition hikes (since 2008);
  • a change in the Bursar’s billing policy allowing students to pay their quarterly University tuition and fees until after receiving their first paychecks (in Fall 2011);
  • a promise by the Provost’s Office to amend the university’s parental leave policy so that student parents can retain their student status (and hence visa status, health insurance, and access to university facilities) while on parental leave or “academic modification” (Summer 2011)

Continue reading “In Response to Deputy Provost Deborah Nelson”

GSU Stands in Solidarity with Campus Workers

Graduate Students United stands in solidarity with the housekeeping staff in this assault on labor rights on campus.

All those who work (on campus) have the right to be represented by a union. We will not tolerate the administration’s eradication of basic labor rights under the guise of opaque and rushed processes of “consolidation.” This is not an exceptional decision by the administration. This is part of a larger strategy to consolidate-away campus union employees, squeeze workers, and reward the already well-off.

As graduate students we are well aware of how convenient it is for the the administration to be blind to the work that we (and many others) do on campus.

And to the fact that many of us have or start families during our many years here. This is why we are calling on the administration to make its new child care center available and financially accessible to–not just graduate students–but all campus employees.

This is also why I am here to say that we resist corporate logics of optimization. This University is a community which works best when all of us work together and when our work is not just symbolically respected (by actions such as Employee Appreciation Week) but materially recognized. Outsourcing employment to subcontractors may assure a better bottom line but it doesn’t guarantee the kind of dedicated service that the housekeeping staff provides: some of them for over a decade!

The way we fight back is through collective action; it’s what secured the doubling of TA pay, it’s what secures good contracts for housekeepers, clerical workers, nurses, dining hall workers, and everyone else who works for a wage at the university.

We stand in solidarity and demand the continued guaranteed employment of all housekeeping staff. And this, under a collectively negotiated contract!

Graduate Students United

GSU News #5

The latest issue of GSU News is fresh off the press and distributed to various locations on campus. If you haven’t picked one up already you can download one here (pdf). This time our theme is “Beginnings (New and Old),” and features:

  • An article from member and historian of the South Side Paul Durica.
  • A call to unionize from member Andrew Yale.
  • Information on our new Community Partners Program.
  • And the latest news about GSU and the education labor front.

Don’t forget to learn the words to the GSU drinking song (for water or wine) “The Union is Here”!

GSU News #3

Our Fall 2009 edition of GSU News (pdf) is now available on our site! Its theme is “involvement” and it includes:

  • a polemic on “the depoliticization of activism”
  • a timeline of seven years of campus politics
  • excerpts from recent GSU statements on teaching job availability and advanced residence
  • a survey on the political responsibilities of academics
  • labor news from across the country
  • part one of a folk epic, “the marooned dissertation writers”

Response to Provost’s Decision on AR Tuition

On February 25th, 2010, the administration released the “Provost’s Response to Graduate Education Committee Reports”. It is available here. We encourage you to consult the Provost’s Response and read the administration’s decision concerning issues of grave importance to students: unfair AR tuition burdens, teaching eligibility, and (the lack of) increased funding for dissertation writing periods. The Provost’s Response is a reply to a number of student-faculty committees that provided reasonable — though excessively modest — recommendations for improving the graduate student experience and enabling us to continue to produce top-quality academic research.

Graduate Students United is profoundly disappointed by Provost Rosenbaum’s decision to ignore the Advanced Residency and Time to Degree Committee’s most crucial recommendations, including virtually all the recommendations that were designed to ease the financial burden of AR tuition. Over the past year, students, faculty and administrators have dedicated many hours working on the Advanced Residency and Time to Degree Committee, attended open forums to offer helpful suggestions, and took the time to share their deeply personal stories of financial burden and stress. Just this past week over 180 graduate students personally sent e-mails to Provost Rosenbaum, expressing the need for the administration to go beyond the Committee’s recommendations by removing AR tuition entirely.

Continue reading “Response to Provost’s Decision on AR Tuition”

Explanation of Proposed Advanced Residence Reforms

From the AR BLUES FORUM, CO-Sponsored by Graduate Students United and the Graduate Funding Committee

I. Summary of recommendations from the Provost’s Committee on AR and Time to Degree:

The following recommendations were the basis for the open forums in October, and will guide the Provost’s decision:

1.    AR Tuition (reduce it, but don’t eliminate it): The report maintains that AR out-of-pocket tuition allows graduate students to contribute to and access University services in our advanced residency years, and encourages us to finish faster. The report acknowledges that AR tuition rates have increased to a burdensome amount.  They recommend: reducing AR tuition for all graduate students, but not eliminating it (recommendation #1).  They suggest an end to AR out-of-pocket tuition waivers to those who teach on campus and a redistribution of the savings to reduce AR tuition for all AR students (recommendation #2).

Continue reading “Explanation of Proposed Advanced Residence Reforms”

GSU News #4

The Winter Quarter edition of GSU News (pdf) is here! In this issue you will find the following:
  • A special spread on the topic of affiliation. What does it mean to affiliate with a national union? Should GSU affiliate? With which union? Prepare for the GSU-wide referendum to be held next quarter!
  • News on other university labor movements from around the world.
  • An editorial by Duff Morton on how to (not) be a good organizer.
  • Thoughts on “solidarity” from our members.
  • Part two of a folk epic: “Proposal.”

Statement on Advanced Residence

Graduate Students United – Statement on Advanced Residence – (Sept. 14, 2009)

More than two years ago, after a series of protests led by Graduate Students United, the University of Chicago administration began deliberating over possible reform of the university’s system of advanced residence (AR), whereby tuition is charged to graduate students after their 4th year of doctoral studies. In the meantime, as the reform process drags on, we continue to pay inordinate tuition costs. Although this reform process has been undemocratic from the start, with administrators consulting graduate students but never granting us decision-making or bargaining power, we have taken part in good faith. In spite of this, the administration’s discussions have remained almost entirely secret, and unless we speak forcefully we can only assume that our concerns will fall on deaf ears. For this reason Graduate Students United (GSU) releases the following formal statement regarding the process and potential outcome of these efforts at AR reform. The administration may choose to ignore our words, but it should be forewarned—these words will be backed up by action.

Already in the spring of 2007 Provost Rosenbaum convened a “Working Group on Graduate Student Life in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Divinity,” whose very modest recommendations included lowering AR tuition and eliminating tuition for the first year of AR (see Appendix A). These recommendations have still not been implemented. Following that committee’s report, the provost convened a Committee on Advanced Residence and Time to Degree, which produced a set of recommendations in May 2009. Today, nearly 4 months later, following repeated calls on our part for its release, the committee’s report has been finally made public. While GSU has developed its position on AR independently of the Provost’s committee, graduate students can now read the committee’s report and compare its proposals to our own. They will see that the committee’s report makes some positive but moderate recommendations, along with other recommendations that should be sharply criticized. The report’s positive recommendations, we hope, will finally convince the administration to take positive steps toward reform. But the weakness, vagueness, and misplaced emphasis of these recommendations, coupled with the administration’s continued slowness in acting, bring into relief the need for the following statement from GSU.

We will not dwell on the committee’s report, to which we respond here. Our statement simply restates graduate students’ long-standing grievances; it calls for immediate action commensurate with the urgency of the situation; and it outlines specific proposals for minimal reforms, pending what will be the only viable long-term solution: a complete abolition of AR tuition.

As graduate students, our work constitutes a fundamental part of this institution’s intellectual life. We are fully engaged members of the local, national, and international academic community; we participate in workshops, lectures, and other activities on campus; and, if we can afford it, we travel to engage in debate with members of other scholarly environments: our presence and participation is an essential driving force of intellectual activity at the University of Chicago. Yet instead of receiving just compensation, we are charged for the time we spend here.

Continue reading “Statement on Advanced Residence”