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About: Resolutions and Actions

Resolution on Graduate Student Rights

March 2005

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF GRADUATE STUDENT RIGHTS (adopted at the November 11, 2004 ASA Council Meeting)

WHEREAS, 260,000 teaching and research assistants are currently identified by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the higher educational instructional workforce; and

WHEREAS all individuals performing work for colleges and universities are entitled to unionize and bargain collectively in promotion of their interests as employees and in support of a fair living wage and adequate benefits,

WHEREAS, on July 13, 2004, in the case of Brown University, the National Labor Relations Board voted along partisan lines to reverse an earlier, unanimous decision that graduate assistants were entitled to organize under the National Labor Relations Act, and ruled that graduate teaching and research assistants are not employees eligible to unionize under the Act; and

WHEREAS freedom of speech, expression, and association are essential to academic workplaces, and

WHEREAS other academic associations, including the American Sociological Association and a committee of the American Polictical Science Association have recently passed resolutions supporting the rights of graduate assistants to form unions;

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Studies Association joins with other academic associations in supporting the collective bargaining rights of graduate assistants at all
universities;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Studies Association deplores the NLRB decision in Brown, which affects the academic workplaces where our members are employed;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Studies Association condemns any retaliation against graduate students by university faculty members or administrators for their union activities;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Studies Association recommends that the administrations of Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University and any other university where graduate assistants seek to form unions work out a fair process for graduate assistants to decide whether or not to unionize, in an atmosphere free from intimidation and coercion.