Letter: GA’s should join the union

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

In response to Charles Groce’s guest column of Dec. 5, I frankly shake my head. It’s easy for people to criticize the efforts of others and to complain about a supposed ineffectiveness. After all, in an ideal world, it would be lovely for the GA United bargaining committee to have gone into contract negotiations with the university and have received everything asked for in the initial proposal. Sadly, we live in a world called reality.

If graduate assistants are upset about the terms of their employment, I most heartily support that – and suggest that they join the union. I furthermore suggest that if they want more out of their union, they become active in that union and in creating a force with which to be reckoned.

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Mr. Groce has argued that the university’s graduate assistants as a whole want to be involved in the process. From his impassioned column, I would surmise that he is one of those GAs who wants a say in the direction of the union. But by his request that he be allowed to vote in union matters without joining the union, he is, in fact, declaring that while he wants the benefits of union membership, he doesn’t want to have to extend himself.

The contract that GA United has bargained includes stipend increases over the next three years – stipend increases that would not have existed otherwise. It includes a partial reimbursement of healthcare fees to begin in the next academic year. Without the GA United contract, these things would not have been handed over to the graduate assistants from the administration. It is a young union, one that is growing – and as graduate assistants continue to work towards better conditions, I hope that it will flourish here at SIUC.

Kylie Olean

graduate student studying English literature

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