As a whole separate can of worms for the unionization debate, it seems that even students that want a union are trying to get as far away from UAW representation as possible, though they aren’t necessarily succeeding. I knew that UMass Amherst had had their union made into an administratorship, but I only learned last night that at UCSB graduate students aren’t being represented in negotiations for their own contracts, though they are being asked to strike. A whole separate, independent union, United Student Labor, has been set up, but the UAW is saying that legally they are the only group permitted to bargain with the university. Things sound very bad:
The UAW is calling for a strike authorization vote because UAW contract negotiations with the UC have failed to produce a contract. However, the people that the contract negotiations and the related strike authorization vote will affect most–that is, UCSB graduate students like you and me–have not had any input into this strategy. As many of you already know, we no longer have any elected representatives on the UAW bargaining team and, since November, the UAW has not even allowed us to observe the local negotiations here at UCSB. Furthermore, the UAW staff have refused to provide any substantive information on the proceedings of the negotiations (e.g. to GSA President Grace Credo). And despite our repeated objections, the UAW has so far ignored our insistence that important contract items such as our right to strike, our protection from discrimination, and a variety of other important topics not be negotiated away without our informed consent.
While the original union representatives did resign, due to conflict with the UAW, it is outrageous that new representatives were not recognized. This belies any claims that the UAW will leave graduate student issues up to the graduate students, and are only involved as a provider of money and legal resources. The UAW will have the legal right to step in, and it has shown itself willing to.
I once heard a union activist say “I’d rather have other graduate students determining my contract than the administration.” Well, I’d rather have my contract in the hands of Cornell than the UAW.