Friday, July 16, 2004

Teaching Assistants are Not Workers

Graduate students working in private universities as teaching assistants can't unionize.  So says the labor board.  Such students are to be regarded as students first: 

Graduate teaching assistants at private universities can't form unions because they are students, not employees, a Republican-controlled federal labor board ruled, reversing a Clinton-era decision.
The National Labor Relations Board, led by three Republicans appointed by President Bush, ruled that about 450 graduate teaching and research assistants at Brown University in Providence, R.I., could not be represented by the United Auto Workers.
The two Democrats on the five-member panel opposed the decision, which does not affect public universities and colleges. The ruling, overturning a 2000 decision, was made public Thursday.
UAW said Friday the ruling will hurt union organizing campaigns under way at other schools, including Columbia, Tufts, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.
"The right to join together to bargain for a better standard of living is a basic human right," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "The labor board should be protecting and expanding the rights of workers, not restricting them."
Brown's provost, Robert Zimmer, said the new ruling "correctly recognizes that a graduate student's experience is a mentoring relationship between faculty and students, and that it's not appropriate for collective bargaining."
Graduate teaching assistants criticized the decision.

What do you think about this decision?  Other than its obvious adherence to a party policy which does not allow unions as the counterveiling power to large corporations?  The right always likes to argue that workers should just civilly and politely negotiate what they want with their employers, you know, whether you can take sick leave or parental leave and so on.  This ignores the reality that a worker at MacDonald's doesn't have the power that the firm has.  Civil and polite negotiations require some similarities in the levels of bargaining power.


Blogger has 'improved' again.  All new symbols and stuff, and I have an angry feeling in my stomach.  What is it with computer nerds that they can never leave anything alone for even one week?  They completely ignore the costs for users who have to keep on learning these 'improvements' while other work piles on.