Thursday, July 15, 2004

Today's Times reports

The fast-growing movement to unionize graduate students at the nation's private universities suffered a crushing setback yesterday when the National Labor Relations Board reversed itself and ruled that students who worked as research and teaching assistants did not have the right to unionize.

In a case involving Brown University, the labor board ruled 3 to 2 that graduate teaching and research assistants were essentially students, not workers, and thus should not have the right to unionize to negotiate over wages, benefits and other conditions of employment.

The Republican-controlled board reversed a four-year-old decision involving New York University, a private institution, in which the board, then controlled by Democrats, concluded that graduate teaching and research assistants should be able to unionize because their increased responsibilities had essentially turned them into workers.

1. This should prove, for the millionth time, that Republicans and Democrats are not indistinguishable and that it matters quite a bit who you vote for -- so don't throw your vote away by voting for Nader!

2. I'm with the Republicans on this one; unionization will lead to increased wages for graduate students and, by corollary, lower admission rates. It can be argued that many fields are currently overproducing PhDs, creating high rates of unemployment among advanced degree holders. But there are also many fields that are not overproducing PhDs and the unionization of graduate students may prevent the United States from getting all the engineers & scientists its economy may need in the future.

Ultimately, a PhD should be available to anyone who is competent and willing to sacrifice years of his life for it -- this would not be so under unionization.


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