It's About Respect

Before the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to restore grad workers’ right to unionize in August 2016, Cornell maintained that TAs and RAs are not even workers. In spite of the fact that we pay taxes, sign away our intellectual property rights, and do so much of the academic labor that makes Cornell successful—our own administration claimed that we are not workers and not eligible for any employment protections under the law. Cornell can do this because we lack a union contract. A union contract is legally binding, and would ensure that our work as grads is respected.

In addition, CGSU strives to create an inclusive union which brings marginalized groups to the forefront. Our success as a union is bound up in our support for one another—which is why a union contract is our goal. A contract presents a way to bring the needs of all graduate employees into the discussion, so that we can address them in unified negotiations with management. Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, national origin, or immigration status, your voice will be heard.

And we back you up against the administration if necessary. CGSU will bargain for an effective grievance procedure that respects graduate work, in case problems with administrators or faculty arise. Currently, Cornell’s policy for addressing grievances is to form a Graduate Grievance Review Board—a board of graduate students and faculty—to hear a grievance. However, the current policy still allows the Provost to retain final authority on any grievance. A legally recognized union will be able to bargain for a contract that includes a grievance procedure is binding on and independent from Cornell administration.

A vote yes for our grad union is a vote for respect of our academic labor and respect for all graduate workers in today’s uncertain political environment.