Graduate student workers at MIT have now become the latest to vote for a union in a rank-and-file organizing drive. Last week, they voted 1,785 to 912 to be represented by the MIT Graduate Student Union, a local of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE). The union will become the bargaining agent for nearly 4,000 graduate workers at the school.
The issues in the union organizing drive included supervisor harassment, insufficient access to medical care, and housing insecurity (in Cambridge, Mass., where the school is located, MIT is one of thee largest landlords and charges exorbitant rents
Graduate workers at MIT work primarily as research assistants, in addition to teaching undergraduate classes, and many cited being able to carry out their research free from harassment, unreasonable work expectations, and financial insecurity as a major reason to support the union. Collective bargaining will “make a better MIT for us as scientists,” union member Adam Trebach declared after the victory.
In another grad school action, the Indiana University Graduate Workers Coalition-UE is holding a strike authorization vote after the university refused to recognize and bargain with their union. The union submitted over 1,500 union cards to the school administration in December requesting Indiana University to hold a union election, but the request has been ignored.