Harvard grad student workers unionize

In a Harvard Crimson interview on May Day, President Drew Faust said she would bargain with its new graduate student union. This decision, affecting 5,000 graduate and undergraduate teaching and research assistants, comes after eligible students voted to unionize on April 18-19.

Now Harvard Graduate Student Union – United Auto Workers is soliciting nominations for its bargaining committee.

What is the plight of these workers? In the past the university has unilaterally imposed hardships like increased teaching loads and inadequate medical coverage on top of health care rate hikes without any discussion. Now the grad students can negotiate for improved benefits and working conditions and help set the terms of their employment.

This stability will allow them to focus on research and teaching and also “build a stronger political voice beyond Harvard on issues that matter to us as academics.” (HGSU-UAW.org) This refers to the activism of other Harvard workers, like those who recently formed the TPS (temporary protected status) Coalition to force President Faust to protect rights of im/migrant workers. (WW, Feb. 5)

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