Unionization of Graduate Students

A Student Senator here at Washington State University is working with the state legislature trying to lobby for the right for WSU Graduate Students to unionize.

The bill, which would require student workers be paid the maximum allowable by state law (which they already are, by and large), was discussed in committee by the House on the 25th, and is being discussed by the senate today. The problem is, that I know of no students whom this law is meant to benefit who are actually in favor of it.

As I said above, most students make what is allowable by the state anyway, and here at WSU, they have the Graduate and Professional Student Association, which already fulfills many of the roles that a union would without costing students a dime. The GPSA offers Grad Students discounted printing and copying, departmental delegates, and is working to bring child care for Grad Students.

While the law doesn’t prohibit the existence of groups like the GPSA, the collective bargaining agreement at the University of Washington does, and as WSU would be joining the same collective as the students on the UW campus, there is little reason to expect differently. Meaning, that all the work the GPSA has already done for our Graduate Students, will be thrown away.

And for what? A collective bargaining unit not as flexible as the GPSA, no monetary benefits, and being beholden to a collective that can not be nearly as responsive to their needs and has no incentive to be.

Unions were formed for a reason. When Unions were formed in this country, workers were being exploited heavily by their companies, and they needed to fight in order to gain the rights necessary to live good productive lives. These days, it’s very rare for an employer to try to take advantage of their workers, and Unions seem to exist to take advantage of businesses.

Some Unions still have a purpose. The IBEW, which serves to train it’s members in a professional, useful trade, are still valid organizations, resembling the trade guilds of antiquity. Where they overreach, is requiring people only use their members, and trying to stamp out non-union electricians.

So, Washington Residents, contact the legislature, oppose the Unionization of student workers. The students don’t want it. Make sure those deciding the student’s fate know.