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Elections Matter, Cot’d



NLRB appointments are important:

Graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities are entitled to collective bargaining, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday.

The NLRB said that a previous ruling by the board — that these workers were not entitled to collective bargaining because they are students — was flawed. The NLRB ruling, 3 to 1, came in a case involving a bid by the United Auto Workers to organize graduate students at Columbia University. The decision reverses a 2004 decision — which has been the governing one until today — about a similar union drive at Brown University.

Many graduate students at public universities are already unionized, as their right to do so is covered by state law, not federal law.

The ruling largely rejects the fights of previous boards over whether teaching assistants should be seen primarily as students or employees. They can be both, the majority decision said.

Hmm, the NLRB under the neoliberal Barack Obama is substantially more progressive than it is under the neoliberal George W. Bush. What an amazing coincidence!

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  • tsam

    So what you’re saying is I should write in Antonio Banderas?

    • The Temporary Name


      • tsam

        But he’s so goddamn good looking. Even I get it with him.

  • But, but, I was assured that election outcomes do not determine policy!

  • Gwen

    This is all just a conspiracy by the two-party duopoly to hide the corporate oligarchy, rabble rabble derp rabble derp.

  • Once again, the neoliberal NLRB did not order the liquidation of the capitalist class. Stein ’16!

    • angrifon

      Wait, the NLRB can do that? I’m going back and retroactively voting for Nader in 2000. Wasted my damn vote on that neoliberal Gore.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The ruling didn’t even require that TA health insurance plans deny coverage to corporate vaccines and cover homeopathic medicine. This NLRB is just the more effective evil.

      • tsam

        What will I do without coverage for my vitamin supplements? I’M FIGHTING CANCER PEOPLE

        • N__B

          Hell, I’m a fighting Sagittarius.

          • tsam

            “Who is Sagittarius?”

            “I’M SAGITTARIUS”

            “I’M SAGITTARIUS”

          • tsam

            I’m just a lowly Virgo. I guess that means I’m supposed to be an MRA

    • I’ve praised the NLRB’s recent decisions, too, but this one took a pathetically long time to happen. Even with GOP intransigence, the Brown precedent could have and should have been overturned during Obama’s first term.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        The NLRB didn’t have a quorum during Obama’s first term – or even the last couple of years of Bush’s second term. They couldn’t legally make ANY decisions.

        It wasn’t until 2013 that Obama was finally able to appoint anyone to the NLRB.

  • MPAVictoria

    These appointments are SO important and very few people really know about them or what is at stake. I often point this out to Green Supporters on Twitter when trying to convince them to consider voting Dem. It might even have worked a couple times.

  • petesh

    Uh-oh. According to Politico, Our Revolution (Bernie’s new effort) is possibly running foul of the law concerning political activities by a 501(c)4 and alienating its base by bringing back the professionals:

    “A majority of the staff quit as a result of Jeff [Weaver] joining,” said one person familiar with the situation, who added that they had joined with a promise from Bernie and Jane Sanders, and executive director Shannon Jackson, that Weaver wouldn’t be running it and had asked for this promise specifically.

    I insist that my popcorn be organically raised and humanely picked.

    • I don’t want to see the Sanders campaign’s aftermath be ugly. He did a lot of great things. Picking on him or hoping this blows up so you can laugh is a bad look. But I don’t like this at all:

      But Sanders himself has yet to campaign for any candidates whatsoever aside from one rally for Eric Kingson — a New York House hopeful who subsequently lost his primary to the Democratic party’s favored contender.

      So far it doesn’t seem as if Sanders has done anything at all since the convention. In fact, he’s been completely invisible. This is highly unfortunate and I don’t think reflects well on him.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yeah, he really needs to get off his ass and start appearing in high-leverage Senate states at least.

      • cleek

        he’s been completely invisible

        i’m so shocked.

      • petesh

        The internal contradictions involved in playing an inside and an outside role are coming to the fore. I’d love it if the energetic young activists (the ones now quitting in disgust) revitalized the Democrats, either within the standing party apparatus or as an outside pressure group. Unfortunately, some of them seem to be locked into the foolish belief that Bernie was cheated out of the nomination by evil forces with whom there can be no negotiation.

        I’m only “picking on” Sanders because for the next couple of months what he damn well should be doing is what he promised to do — campaign vigorously for Clinton. As for “hoping this blows up” that’s not so I can point and laugh, it’s so that it doesn’t become (more of a) distraction this fall. And yes, it is ridiculous, so yes, I do laugh. Keeps the tears away.

      • efgoldman

        This is highly unfortunate and I don’t think reflects well on him.

        A reflection is by definition a reverse image of the exact same thing.
        You can’t really be surprised.

      • Brien Jackson


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  • Davebo

    If only anyone cared about graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities other than graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities.

    • You could say this about any sector of workers in the entire country

      • Davebo

        Of course you could. But I think graduate students aren’t going to be viewed as sympathetically to the average American as say, coal miners or auto workers.

        It’s not fair, and I could be wrong but I don’t think so.

    • solidcitizen

      I don’t understand this comment. You surely had a point, but I missed it. Who else needs to care about them? What does the “If only…” indicate? What would happen then?

      • Hob

        I believe the point of the comment was “I don’t give a shit about this thing you see as good news, because it doesn’t affect me, it only affects other people who don’t matter.”

  • This has been a long, long time coming. I was an undergrad at Columbia when the University locked up the ballot boxes after Brown came down. My entire time at UAW 2865, we were all waiting for the NLRB to reverse it, but it stuck around for that entire 8 years.

    Now I’m an adjuct in that other huge pool of contingent academic labor, and grad students have the right to unionize again…but could lose it if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016.

  • Fake Irishman

    This is great news. It also includes research assistants too, and not just TAs.

    Now we just have to get the states who don’t grant rights to public university grads. More than 30 states don’t grant any rights — including some quite blue ones (e.g. Maryland). And many others don’t grant rights to RAs (e.g. Michigan, California — which vetoed a bill in 2012 that would have provided RAs with rights). And others have generally been moving backward on rights — Wisconsin took out its grad locals with Walker’s ascension in 2011.

    • Linnaeus

      In the case of Michigan, the ban on RA unionization in public universities was the Republican-controlled legislature’s response to a unionization effort at U-M. Funny how the lege could get right on that, but a roads maintenance bill that the state really, really needs? Gotta send that to the voters* after months of debate and discussion…

      We fared better here in Washington because we didn’t have an openly hostile state legislature or public employee relations commission and hence were able to get RAs included in the bargaining unit at my institution.

      *In a poorly-worded referendum that was, as intended, rejected by the voters.

  • elm

    So, I got into a bit of a Twitter argument with someone on grad student unionization today. After a couple of exchanges, I actually looked to see who I was arguing with. The Other McCain’s self-proclaimed blog sidekick! Maybe I should take after J Otto and send my dissertation to them for a review.

  • A Rising Ape

    There we go again with the false equivalencies. Hillary is a neoliberal capitalist shill, BUSH was a neo FASCIST capitalist shill, get it straight man.

    • sharculese

      I… am not sure you know what a false equivalency is? Unless this is sarcasm I’m not getting?

  • Craigo

    Are unions neoliberal yet? I haven’t been keeping track.

  • mds

    Our university president almost immediately sent out a university-wide email bemoaning the way this “inconsistent” ruling will poison the traditional collegial mentor-mentee relationship between faculty and their TAs and RAs. Alas, at least in the sciences, few actually read the e-mail, as the faculty were too busy issuing instructions for their lab managers to pass on to their enormous armies of grad students, postdocs, and technicians; and the grad students were too busy doing the actual work.

    I mean, seriously. If a faculty-grad student relationship is already so great, why would having union recognition change that? It seems to me that what union representation brings is uniform minimal standards for compensation and benefits, and a more structured grievance process if a grad student thinks a faculty member is being a domineering asshole or suchlike. If a faculty member is being a terrific mentor, then vis students shouldn’t even notice the difference. (Well, maybe union dues.) Meanwhile, out here in reality, most established science faculty resemble middle managers overseeing a business more than they do a spirit guide on one’s PhD journey. So it seems to me that the ship has already sailed. In other disciplines, things might well be different, of course, but it was the humanities and social science TAs who were the force behind the local unionization drive.

  • burnspbesq

    Next stop, D.C. Circuit, the critically important court that non-geeks hardly ever talk about. Has anyone ever asked a Presidential candidate to reveal his/her shortlist for the D.C. Circuit?

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