After GET-UP–a Pennsylvania student group advocating for a grad student union–made their campaign public a couple weeks ago, a group of professors circulated a letter of support, getting 53 signatures in total.
Grad student unions have popped up over the past few months after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that grad students are employees, and as such have the right to unionize. Universities aren’t typically happy about these movements, but that’s because they’re the bosses.
Faculty endorsement is, if not necessarily influential, then definitely pretty cool. The relationship between tenured professors and their less job-secure colleagues isn’t the most ethical one: grad students and adjuncts do most of the teaching, letting tenured professors focus on prestige-building publications. That the end goal of many exploited academics is to exploit academics in turn makes the whole system feel like a bizarre pyramid scheme. Unions for grad students could be a welcome step towards academia that doesn’t run on poverty wages and crushing debt.