Can Graduate Students Unionize? The Government Cant Decide

Last semester, Paul Katz, a third-year Columbia doctoral student whos working toward a Ph.D. in 20 th century Latin American history, was assigned to help teach and grade an undergraduate course on ancient Greece. He hadnt studied Greek history since high school, and he took time away from his own dissertation work to prepare for the class. Its reasonable to view that as a work assignment that Id been given , not to pretend that we are talking about my growth as a intellectual and teacher, Katz says. Hes joined other Columbia graduate students in petitioning the federal government for the right to unionize as they seek higher pay and other concessions, including better health benefits, for the teaching and research they do while pursuing their degrees.

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to rule sometime the summer months. Katz and his co-workers have petitioned become members of the United Auto Workers. The AFL-CIO has also weighed in on their behalf. Theyre a service and receiving compensation, says AFL-CIO general counsel Craig Becker, who served on the NLRB during President Obamas first word. Its up to them to decide whether, even though theyre also students, they think they would benefit from collective bargaining.

Columbia, which opposes grad student unionization, has won subsistence from all seven members of its fellow Ivy League schools, along with Stanford and MIT. The schools joined together in February to file an amicus brief warning that collective bargaining would threaten faculty authority over educational decisions involving undergraduates as well as teaching deputies. This is viewed as a fundamental issue of academic freedom, tells attorney Joseph Ambash, who wrote the Ivies brief.

In its own filing, Columbia compared its alumnu assistants to student interns at Fox Searchlight Scene: A federal court last year ruled the interns dont have to be paid minimum wages if it can be determined that they benefit more than the company does from their period on the job. The benefits they receive far outweigh any advantage the University receives from student-performed teaching or research, Columbias attorneys wrote.[ T] he university exercises control for wholly pedagogical intents. Columbia declined to comment further.

Unionization among graduate students at public universities has been widespread for decades because those student employees are treated as government employees. In 2000 the NLRB, then dominated by President Clintons appointees, ruled in favor of letting graduate students unionize at New York University, the first such victory at a private institution. That precedent was overruled in 2004, under President George W. Bush, when the NLRB rejected a unionization push at Brown. Being a graduate deputy working toward a certain degree is not a relationship thats primarily economic. Its primarily academic, says former NLRB member Ronald Meisburg, who was part of the majority that voted in favor of blocking unionization at Brown.

After that decision, NYU ceased to recognize its graduate students union. Students filed a fresh unionization petition in 2010 to the NLRB, which signaled it might be open to undoing the Bush-era ruling and returning to the precedent defined under Clinton. In 2013, NYU allowed the UAW to establish a union that encompassed the majority of members of the students the UAW had asked to represent. We felt there was a middle ground, NYU Executive Vice President Bob Berne said at the time. We felt that both the union and the university learned from the first experience.

That helped fuel student unionization efforts at other prominent universities. The American Federation of Teachers is organizing at Cornell. The university announced on April 13 that its opened talks with student representatives about recognise a union. The university would completely fall apart without that labor force, says Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornells School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Graduate deputies at Yale have announced their is supportive of the hospitality union Unite Here, which represents the schools clerical and service staff.

In addition to Columbia, the UAW is organizing at Manhattans New School and at Harvard, where it announced on April 28 that its won majority support from teaching and research deputies. I dont believe any powerful institution wants to concede power or voice to anybody, says Felix Owusu, a first-year Harvard doctoral student in public policy. The administration at Harvard, I guess its not surprising that theyre not an exception.

The bottom line : Unions are targeting the wealthiest universities in the U.S. to win higher pay and benefits for graduate students who teach .

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Liberal Nonprofits Ride the Anti-Trump Donation Wave

The morning after Donald Trumps victory, a picture of his face was splashed across the front page of the American Civil Liberties Union website next to the words See you in tribunal. Beneath the all-caps declaration was a donate button. Within 24 hours, 14,000 people “ve been given” more than $940,000 online, far exceeding the organizations record for contributions in a single day, according to Mark Wier, chief development officer at the ACLU. By Monday the following week, the above figures had reached $7.2 million from 120,000 donors.

Planned Parenthood received 128,000 gifts within those same five days, 30 hours the normal number for that span. The organisations donors included Sarah Wexler, a freelance novelist in Portland, Ore ., who also dedicated to a handful of other nonprofits.( Bloomberg Philanthropies, the private foundation of Michael Bloomberg, provides financial support for Planned Parenthood. Bloomberg is majority owned of Bloomberg LP, publisher of Bloomberg Businessweek .) It felt a little like playing Oprah, says Wexler. You get $100! And you get $100!

In addition to Planned Parenthood, Wexler gave to the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations( CAIR ). Ibrahim Hooper, CAIRs national communications director, says the group got 500 volunteer applications after the electionit usually gets maybe one a day. Its clear that we are going to need additional resources under a Trump administration if he plans to carry out the policies that he proposed during the campaign, says Hooper. If it was all merely campaign talk and he acts like a normal chairman, thats one thing, but we have to be prepared for him trying to implement his Islamophobic policies.

During President Obamas two terms in office, conservative groups benefited from similar spikes in supporting. Annual dedicating to the National Rifle Association went up nearly 12 percentage in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting of 20 children and six staff member at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which prompted debate in Washington and nation capitols about banning military-style weapons. The NRA solicited donations with fundraising letters such as one sent in January 2013 by Chris Cox, head of the organizations Institute for Legislative Action, warns that Democrat planned to ban your firearms and abolish every last sacred right you have under the Second Amendment.

Much of the outpouring in the wake of Trumps election has flowed to environmental groups. At the Sierra Club, 11,000 new monthly donors signed on within the first week, more than nine days as many as the advocacy group enrolled in December 2015, its previous best month. Im the fundraiser, so Im usually the person initiating the conversation, says Mary Nemerov, the Sierra Clubs chief advancement policeman. Right now, donors are reaching out to us to initiate that conversation.

The National Resources Defense Council, which is asking advocates to help gear up to defend our environment and climate from the Trump presidency, has furthermore assured an uptick in giving. We would be delighted to find that we were exaggerating the threat, says David Goldston, the NRDCs director of government affairs. We are going by what Trump said verbatim.

The Anti-Defamation League( ADL ), founded to combat anti-Semitism in 1913, received 50 periods the normal number of online gifts on Nov. 9, more than three-quarters of them from new donors. While Trumps victory has been cause for jubilation among white supremacists, ADL Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Greenblatt says he plans to take a measured approach.

After Trump announced the appointment of Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as his special adviser, Greenblatt criticized Breitbart as a website catering to unabashed anti-Semites and racists. But he also commended Trumps selection of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff. We dont want to be exploitative, says Greenblatt. Our posture is one of optimistic engagement with the new administration.

The bottom line : Planned Parenthood received 128,000 donations in the consequences of the Donald Trumps election .

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