On Dec. 2, 1998, once I was a Graduate Pupil Teacher at UC Berkeley, I walked away from my classroom and onto a picket line to strike for recognition of the Affiliation of Graduate Pupil Staff union (ASGE/UAW). Within the days main as much as the strike, college directors argued that we have been college students, not employees; and that our paychecks have been monetary assist, not wages. Most regarding to me and lots of others, the college directors advised us repeatedly that unionization would harm the crucial mentorship relationships with college which might be so vital to success in graduate faculty.
It took two extra years of negotiations, authorized petitions and labor actions earlier than UAW Native 2865 gained hard-earned recognition, first representing all graduate scholar instructors — and now all educational scholar staff — throughout the College of California system. Unsurprisingly, the fears stoked by College of California directors by no means materialized. For practically 1 / 4 century, UC graduate scholar staff have been represented by means of collective bargaining. Their work as unionized staff has not jeopardized their standing as college students. And graduate college students proceed to kind productive mentoring and advising relationships with UC college.
Why didn’t unionization of graduate scholar employees on the UC system have an effect on faculty-student advising relationships? The straightforward cause is that the problems that drive scholar employees to hunt union illustration — affordability, healthcare and housing prices — are points that college have little or no management over. At Stanford, a latest survey carried out by the Graduate Pupil Council discovered that 78% of respondents reported that they may not meet minimal requirements for masking hire, well being care, meals and transportation. Anecdotally, these statistics are made actual to me when, in advising and mentoring conferences, college students confide to me that they’re deferring wanted well being care or counting on native meals banks for his or her groceries. It’s tragic that within the fourth richest county in the US, and at Stanford College, with the fourth largest endowment of any United States faculty or college, a lot of our graduate college students are struggling to satisfy fundamental human wants.
The state of affairs is just getting worse: the recently-announced 2023-2024 cost-of-living adjustment for graduate scholar wages falls under inflation charges for the third yr in a row. Affordability points are affecting Stanford’s capacity to draw, recruit and retain probably the most gifted graduate college students in our disciplines. And analysis exhibits that monetary issues have a direct influence on graduate scholar motivation and diploma completion. Information from the UC system validates this: since graduate scholar employees gained union recognition, doctoral diploma completion has steadily elevated throughout the UC system. In different phrases, graduate scholar unionization seems to assist, moderately than detract from, graduate college students’ educational progress.
Within the weeks and months forward, Stanford directors might trot out the identical acquainted anti-union rhetoric that UC Berkeley directors used within the Nineteen Nineties. In the event that they do, don’t consider the hype. Collective bargaining doesn’t disrupt advising relationships between graduate college students and school. As a substitute, it enhances our educational neighborhood by making certain that graduate employees have the dignity of union illustration once they negotiate with the College. That’s why I stand with the Stanford Graduate Staff Union — and why different college ought to too.
Dr. Barbara L. Voss (she/they) is a historic archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at Stanford College.