Duke graduate students join national fight for better hours, wages
Posted August 23, 2016
Durham, N.C. — Graduate students at Duke University are joining students around the country in a fight for better hours.
The students are reacting to a decision Tuesday from the National Labor Relations Board to allow graduate students at private universities to organize into unions.
Students at Duke hope to be able to negotiate better benefits, transparent wages and obtain clearer policies about work expectations.
A statement from the Service Employees International Union said that colleges and universities are increasingly relying on graduate workers and non-tenured workers for instruction and research. Nearly 70 percent of all professors in non-tenure positions, including adjunct instructors and 31 percent of those workers live near or below the poverty line, they said.
“Colleges and universities that used to provide a pathway to the American Dream are now becoming a road to poverty for students who find themselves saddled with debt and graduate workers and faculty who are unable to support their families on low pay,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.
Graduate assistants at Duke joined other students from Northwestern University, St. Louis University and American University, among others, to take immediate steps toward building unions with their co-workers