Resolution for Democratic Determination of Membership Definition by Grad Unions

Adopted at the CGEU Annual Conference 2016 in Los Angeles, CA on August 16. 2016 (submitted by Claudia Carrera (NYU) and Jessica Feldman (NYU) – adopted unanimously)

WHEREAS few unions in the US and Canada are currently structured to accommodate structurally contingent and precarious labor;

WHEREAS the North American labor movement must adopt itself to such contingent and precarious work, including intellectual, creative, and care work, to meet the needs of 21st century workers and remain politically relevant;

WHEREAS the nature of academic labor in the age of the neoliberal university is structurally contingent and precarious to an unprecedented degree;

WHEREAS the academic labor of all graduate students, regardless of formal employment or bargaining unit status, benefits their universities in material and immaterial ways ;

WHEREAS during the years enrolled, the employment and workplace conditions of graduate students are regulated by their universities regardless of formal employment status, in ways such as caps on maximum numbers of hours worked per week, required approval by the university for off-campus work, or required visa approval for international students, such that all graduate students have a material stake in controlling the conditions of the formal employment positions and workplace at their university;

WHEREAS formal graduate employment is often sporadic and discontinuous but extensive over a period of years, such that collective bargaining agreements may come into and out of effect for individuals over the course of their graduate enrollment;

WHEREAS during the years enrolled, most graduate students are likely to be, if not required to be, formally employed by their university for some duration;

WHEREAS during the years enrolled, graduate students are subject to the stipends, benefits, and other compensation generally governed by collective bargaining agreements, such that all graduate students are continuously materially impacted by and invested in such contracts, their enforcement, and the officers elected to carry them out;

WHEREAS graduate students face increasing job scarcity in formal employment positions at their universities, and access to these positions is highly contingent upon the variable criteria of departmental placement and individual faculty relationships, such that excluding graduate students not employed or underemployed in formal university positions from membership in graduate employee unions restricts not only their participation in the union but specifically their avenues for contesting this precarity;

WHEREAS graduate students currently held to be ineligible by their graduate employee union are prevented from voting for representatives and prevented from running for office to defend and enforce the contract that lays out many conditions to which they are subject, and are thus effectively disenfranchised;

WHEREAS an increase in the number of graduate students represented by graduate employee unions will strengthen graduate employee units and Locals as well as their parent unions and the North American labor movement as a whole, as is an explicit goal of most if not all unions;

WHEREAS contingency and casualization of labor has often disproportionately impacted populations that are discriminated against and oppressed;

BE IT RESOLVED THEREFORE that CGEU supports the right for all graduate employee units or Locals to democratically determine membership eligibility for their unit according to the labor conditions of their university and the needs of their unit;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CGEU encourages graduate employee units or Locals to consider adopting statutes extending membership status, including voting rights and eligibility to run for office, to all graduate students who have a material stake in union decisions.