Some workers are without unions, to their misfortune. So when graduate students are suddenly granted the right to unionize it’s a cause for rejoicing.
The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants at private colleges have a right to form unions. (The NLRB is a five-member body that adjudicates labor law.)
The case arose from a petition filed by a group of Columbia University grad students. The ruling gives grad students a say on the quality of health insurance, the timeliness of their stipend payments and other issues.
”Echoing longstanding complaints from blue-color workers that they have become replaceable cogs in a globalized economic machine, unionizing reflects a view among highly educated employees that they too are at the mercy of faceless organizations,” the New York Times reported.
“Grad students are not being treated like professionals and aspiring professionals whose opinions are worthy of respect.”
One of the students involved in the organizing campaign said their fundamental concern was not so much money but power and democracy in an academy increasingly corporatized and hierarchic.
The ruling reverses a wrong decision in 2004 by the NLRB in the Brown University case. Then it called grad assistants students, not employees, and that it had no right to form a union.
The New York Times ran an op-ed article recently showing how important unions are to workers.
The article by Brittany Bronson, English instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, noted that unions are powerful in Las Vegas and they bring benefits that “cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of.”
“Beyond better wages and health-care packages, union members are ensured set schedules and their first choice of coveted shifts based on seniority,” Bronson writes.
“The stereotype of cocktail servers as young, provocatively dressed women, is untrue. If you visit a unionized casino on a Friday night you will find that most women working the pit have facial wrinkles and even grey hair around their temples.
“Or, come in at 9 a.m. weekdays to see unionized housekeepers, mostly older Latina women, also in Culinary Union 226. They are Immigrant women who make up the vast majority of Culinary members and are often its leading voices.”
SQUANDERING PUBLIC MONEY
No one is surprised that the Nevada legislature recently approved $750 million to spend public money to fund a football stadium for the Oakland Raiders. Anything a National Football League team wants it gets.
So the legislature handed the football barons a 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion stadium in downtown Las Vegas.
It was deemed so important that the foul deed was done in special session of the legislature, passing by the required two-thirds vote. It’s the largest gift in the history of the shabby history of erecting giant stadiums for billionaires.
Filthy rich Sheldon Adelson, who pushed for the stadium, could “only” afford $650 million yet he owns $32 billion. The Raiders organization tossed in $500 million although it is worth $1.4 billion. The NFL itself is valued at $63 billion, all garned from the national public.
Such corporate welfare builds NFL stadiums all over the country.
Nevada will pay for the increase by slapping 0.88 more on the Clark County room tax. It doesn’t sound like much but Las Vegas is a worldwide tourist site needing beaucoup hotels.
Saddest of all, as Dennis Myers wrote in the Reno News & Review: “In the state Assembly, legislators were denied even the right to debate.”
Although state Rep. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, was barred from debating in the Assembly, he heroically expressed his outrage at the obnoxious Raider’s stadium deal.
Needy public schools and necessary road-building be damned. The Legislature prefers to spend one-tenth of its annual budget on King Football and the Raider Nation.
ENDLESS U.S. BOMBING, WARS
Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Mali, Egypt—and now Yemen.
U.S. foreign involvement never ceases. As William Rivers Pitt writes for Truthout: “Either fighting, advising or supplying arms, we have spread our martial wings still farther. We are involved in yet another killing field in the Middle East.
“The missiles fired on Yemen by a U.S. warship pleases Saudi Arabia. Our oil ally has been bombing Yemen with U.S. weapons and intelligence, killing thousands, including more than 100 mourners at a funeral.”
Reprehensively, America is fighting ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. Pitt calls a spade a spade: “a perfect example of the chaos we have unleashed in the Middle East.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (email@example.com)