Recently, I received a letter from the Office of Human Resources confirming that there is a unionization movement gaining steam among graduate students.
A few months ago, I was approached by the labor union organizers and listened to their pitch for a graduate student labor union. While the merits of a graduate student labor union are worthy of a healthy debate, IâÄôm convinced that this specific unionization movement would be detrimental to the well-being of graduate students at the University of Minnesota.
Supporters of unionization would argue that a union can advocate (via collective bargaining and political influence) for the improvement of work conditions and compensation for students. However, the organizers at the University are doing so under the auspices of United Auto Workers. The organizers are asking that graduate students contribute a significant portion of our meager compensation so UAW can advocate for us.
I cannot speak for all graduate students, but I assume that the political objectives of graduate students in Minnesota are quite different than those of auto workers in Michigan. A large portion of the union dues would be sent directly to the national organization in Detroit, which would contribute the money to pro-UAW politicians.
Can you be certain a national organization of auto workers would contribute to politicians friendly to the causes of graduate students in Minnesota? Absolutely not.
I urge all graduate students to reject the labor union. Tell the organizers to come back when they hold the interests of graduate students above their own personal gain.