Thanks for the shout out from Sean Siperstein on the Brown College Dems (cleverly-titled) blog, where he offers trenchant thoughts on the meaning of today’s NLRB decision on his campus:
Not only is this a widespread overturning of precedent and part of a larger trend, but it also ensures that the results of a referendum held among those Brown grad students eligible to unionize will remain permanently sealed and ultimately meaningless (the NLRB ruled previously that all non-science Brown TAs would be eligible, but held up the results being revealed until the current overall appeal was decided). At the time of that referendum, the Brown Democrats were part of a coalition of student groups which campaigned for undergrads to sign a “neutrality card” stating that this was a matter to be decided and debated among grad students themselves (and indeed, active organizations for and against unionization had formed in their ranks), and that undergraduate students and clubs, the administration, the Corporation and alumni ought to all recognize that principle, stay out of the debate, and let the vote proceed without further obfuscation. The effort was highly fruitful in terms of getting student signatures– perhaps the most effective thing that the Dems did during my freshman year– even if (as expected) the administration largely ignored its plea and actively pressured against/tried to prevent unionization, and I’d definitely like to think that this decision that ultimately defeats it will give us all pause to think and at the least serve as an exemplar of the direct impact of the Bush administration’s across-the-board conservatism.
Interesting that Sean sees graduate employees’ right to organize on his campus as an issue which could ignite students to get more involved in electoral politics; if anything, I think those of us organizing around the issue at Yale are struggling to mobilize students to bring the perspectives they believe in or fight for in national politics – on workers’ rights, women’s rights, free speech and such – to bear in confronting the conflict over unionization on our campus. Among the differences which affect the climate, as Sean observes, is a radically different face on a similar administration agenda – I’ve never heard of Ruth Simmons doing or saying anything that would lead NYU’s administration to observe that she would “rather burn the university to the ground” than recognize graduate students’ right to organize.