Every two years, graduate employees have the opportunity to bargain with the university over issues that greatly affect our work and lives. The union gives us a voice at the bargaining table about our working conditions, compensation, and benefits. When we reach an understanding with the University on any of those types of issues, they must enter into a written contractual agreement with us. Over the past 10 years, graduates who have participated in bargaining, myself included, have fought for health care, fee relief, raises to the minimum pay graduate employees receive, and improved contract language that addresses issues of workload associated with teaching assistantships. Yet we can currently only bargain on behalf of a fraction of graduate employees: those who are recognized as bargaining unit members. Consequently, we can only enforce what we have won through bargaining for bargaining unit members. Most research assistants, therefore, are not guaranteed protection under the contract, and do not have a voice at the bargaining table.
Once all graduate employees are recognized as bargaining unit members, we will be able to give voice to issues that primarily affect graduate research assistants, and the university will have to respect all graduate work as “in service to the university.” With graduate research assistants recognized at the bargaining table, the union will have a stronger voice by representing all graduate employees, and all graduate employees will have a say in the issues that are most important to them. Every graduate employee, whether a TA or an RA, deserves to be granted the full rights and protections of the contract that we as a union fight so hard to establish and improve every two years.
Graduate Research Assistant
Human Development and Family Sciences