If you haven’t seen the new show on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report, you should. (it is on the internet too) One of the segments is great, as it does a little free association. Here I present that for you. NYU—> Graduate Employee—> UM.
The education system, the media, religious institutions, and the labor movement itself have all failed to properly draw attention to the importance of unions or even accurately portray what a union is. First of all then, I’ll share some thoughts on unions to illustrate why I believe the workers’ cause at NYU deserves your support.
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Brushing aside the jargon, legalese, and rhetoric, a union is simply a group of workers looking out for each other in the face of a highly organized employer. Certainly, forming a union is partially about bread and butter and GSOC at NYU has fought for significant gains in wages and health care. It should be axiomatic that a worker deserves decent compensation whether or not that worker is also a student. However, NYU doesn’t see it that way and without a union presence sooner or later it will make a move to roll back these material gains.
But forming a union is about much more than bread and butter. Organizing a union is how workers move towards democracy on the job and away from the notion that we shed our right to liberty when we walk through the factory, shop, or university door. John Sexton attempted to enfeeble the union by offering to enter into a contract regarding financial issues but not over working conditions. He primarily wanted to do away with the independent grievance procedure that enables union employees to meaningfully redress problems that arise on the job. GSOC rightly scoffed at Sexton’s public relations-driven offer, as he must have known they would.