We are graduate student researchers and teachers organizing unions on campuses across the United States, joined by allies in the academic and broader labor movement and outside the labor movement. We share a commitment to gender and other forms of equity in our workplaces. We are motivated by a deep disappointment in the efforts by academic administrators – at universities ranging from Columbia to the University of Chicago – to rely on the Trump administration to block the rights of research and teaching assistants to unionize and bargain collectively. By blocking union rights, these administrators block the right to negotiate for real recourse against sexual assault and harassment and, therefore, a real path to gender equity.
Unfortunately, so far in the Trump era, many of our universities have failed to live up to their progressive and democratic potential as a sanctuary against Trumpism. At Columbia, instead of respecting an overwhelming 72% vote by RAs and TAs for unionization nearly one year ago, President Bollinger has delayed bargaining in the hopes that Trump’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board will take away their union rights. At Boston College, RAs and TAs from every department voted in favor of forming a union, BCGEU-UAW, in a fair and democratic election yet BC’s administration continues to attempt to nullify their democratic choice. This assault against democracy is rippling across our campuses, denying academic workers their right to organize and their right to improve their working conditions. Academic worker unions provide real recourse against sexual harassment and assault on campus, yet this progress being stalled or denied by university administrations. Enough is enough.