Within months of the formation of a graduate workers union at Illinois State University, two landmark first contracts for graduate workers at Tufts and Brandeis universities and Emory graduate workers winning a $15 an hour minimum wage, the majority of teaching assistants at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) filed for official recognition of their union last week with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
While graduate teaching assistants are able to form their union, Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have granted another subset of graduate assistants -- including research assistants, pre-professional and administrative assistants -- the right to organize in Illinois.
“All graduate workers make an essential contribution to our colleges and universities. It’s time those contributions are recognized,” said Jen Yoder, a teaching assistant in English. “Graduate workers shouldn’t be forced to skip meals or doctor’s appointments, because of low wages and lack of benefits. That’s why we’re coming together at SIUE and across the country to change things for our colleagues and for our students. We all deserve a voice.”