LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Union Shop isn’t Academic Freedom

Re: “‘Meet Us at the Bargaining Table’: Cornell Graduate Students United Rallies for Employment Protections” (news, April 10)

In coverage of the CGSU-UE’s Rally for Respect, the Cornell Daily Sun broadcasted the union’s unscrutinized propaganda advocating for union shop, a clause in our proposed contract which forces all grad students to support the union as a condition of earning our degrees. Rally speaker Amy Tsai described union shop as a “contract provision that means everyone is automatically a member of CGSU-UE.” This is a lie! Nobody automatically becomes a member. In fact, when MIT’s grad student union was charged with breaking the law for telling this exact lie, the NLRB required them to post a notice of their unfair labor practice. In reality, the union can at most compel us to pay “agency fees,” regular dues minus those funds dedicated to political activity, while eliminating our right to vote on our contract. 

The truth undermines Tsai’s primary defense of union shop: protection from advisor retaliation. Joining a union is always a choice, albeit one under considerable coercion, and forcing non-members to pay is no shield. CGSU-UE’s union shop is more about securing a cash flow than securing grad students. This is no secret given how they unabashedly bemoan the work of convincing new students of the union’s benefits before siphoning off their paychecks, dismissing such representation as not a “real issue.”

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