Friday, April 14, 2006

UVA Student Sit-In for a Living Wage

Students at the University of Virginia are currently engaging in a sit-in to demand a living wage for university staff. The sit-in is already three days old, and campus police are barring students from receiving food or internet connections. More information is available on the UVA Living Wage website.

To show your support for these students and staff, you can sign a petition urging the university to raise wages, and you can also send an email through the UnionVoice website to university administration officials.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should tell GSOC that the strike is over
by Mike Devlin
March 30, 2006

NYU is crippled.
Walk into the Silver Center, past the raging picket lines, and you’ll instantly become a social pariah. Professors don’t teach anymore — they’re afraid of disgruntled laborers wielding Molotov cocktails. John Sexton fled New York; he’s living in exile in Hoboken. The graduate assistants are on strike.

We thought the NYPD would crush their spirits, break their picket lines and deflate their inflatable rat. They didn’t. The police — union members themselves — honk horns in solidarity and carry picketing graduate assistants on their shoulders whenever they’re tuckered out. Sanitation workers stopped picking up trash, and the city smells worse than ever. MTA employees ditched subway cars deep underground, trapping hordes of commuters far below New York.

Susan Valentine, GSOC spokeswoman, wrote a scathing reply (“Devlin’s rant against GSOC is just hyperbolic absurdity,” Feb. 1) to an earlier piece I wrote criticizing her union (“GSOC’s hypocritical hyperboles frustrating,” Jan. 30). I traveled home. Exile is all I can ask for. I needed a good cry.

Sometimes I wonder if GSOC meetings entail sitting around in a circle, holding hands and dreaming up alternate universes like this one. If so, the United Auto Workers is certainly encouraging these whimsical fantasies.

In the March 21 article “Central UAW to step up GSOC support,” Julie Kushner, the UAW New York subregional director, said, “You might as well negotiate with the [GAs], because they’re not going to go away.”

Maybe Kushner hasn’t visited NYU lately. Because if she had, she would know that the graduate assistants do go away — for example, they go away early for lunch on Fridays. They go away at night. Most days, I don’t see a single picketer in front of Bobst. Even the raw winter cold kept picketers from their righteous cause.

“With the weather getting warmer, prospective students visiting campus and the semester underway, GSOC is working right now to increase its visibility on campus,” Valentine said (“GSOC ‘springs’ into action,” March 23).

Looks like they’ve been going somewhere. I think it might be “away.”

But say visibility does increase, the temperature warms up and striking GAs slather on some sunscreen and picket. Who cares? Those on strike aren’t teaching anymore — where’s the disruption? It’s not a job action, guys. You don’t teach here anymore.

Strikes are effective because they hurt a company’s bottom line, not because they pester the CEO with drum beats and snarky slogans. Saying that increased visibility will bring John Sexton to his knees is like arguing that psychotic “Bush is a Nazi” protesters in Union Square are going to successfully impeach the president.

The graduate assistant strike has become a silly charade, and everyone knows it but the GAs themselves. And it makes me sad. I’m glad that NYU didn’t give in — the graduate assistants don’t deserve a union contract for reasons that have been articulated for months. But I hate to watch American labor piss away its integrity over a handful of elite doctoral students who feel entitled to more. The UAW is using resources that could fuel Democratic congressional campaigns to pay GAs who left their classrooms — get your priorities straight, labor.

Rather than increase support, the UAW should revoke it. Cut your losses and find another battle without the image problems this one presents. Maybe some GAs will salvage their reputations within academia. By refocusing their energy, GA organizers might internally reform NYU and resolve their grievances without further corporatizing the university by involving the UAW in its governance. End it now. Teach us again.

And if quitting really offends your progressive sensibilities that much, think of it this way: Without this strike to fund, the UAW can give more money to actual auto workers. They might need it a little more.

4/15/2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger zach said...

Anon, you guys already posted that. It's half a month old. Not only are we not over, we're stronger now than we were then.

The notion that NYU administrators actually need the UAW's help "further corporatizing the university" is about the funniest thing I've read EVER.

We are "actual workers," and the idea that "maybe some" of us will be able to "salvage" our reputation in academia is a deeply problematic statement for several reasons. When NYU busts unions, it isn't our reputation they impugn. When they do try to savage our reputations, they may damage our careers, but they damage the institution of the university just as much if not more. I will not accept an end to this strike in which my co-workers are left out in the cold without their jobs, and I will not stop fighting until we have won a university which values the work that we do.

4/16/2006 1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we follow the logic at the end of the article, then academia will remain the province of the "elite", and the children of auto workers will never be able to go to graduate school because they wont be able to afford it. This is why we rally for things like living wages and unionization, because even if we as individuals do not "need" the protection of American labor, as Devlin claims (because we are already rich, spoiled, elite, etc), we fight for it so that its available for future generations.

I know, its crazy, the idea that we may be invested in the future or people other than ourselves. But strikes, and most labor actions, aren't done for immediate gratification or even the belief that the actual person committing the action will reap qualitative or substantive benefits.

And by the way if I want to read the washington square news, I'll visit their website. Stop posting it here.

4/16/2006 1:31 PM  

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