While union membership is on the decline nationwide, and in particularly in the private sector, student workers are clamoring for union dues and representation in higher education. At least 10,000 graduate student researchers in the University of California system filed their union cards with the state’s Public Employee Relations Board this past week.
According to Inside Higher Ed, organizers claimed that 60-percent of eligible graduate student researchers signed union cards to support a new union in the name of job security. The union will be an affiliate of the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union, which union already represents graduate teaching assistants in the University of California system.
Little do these graduate student researchers know that their stipends will be docked for union dues, which dues will be controlled by the union leaders. There is little input into how these dues are used, which could include donations to political candidate or political action committees (known as PACs). The lack of transparency about union dues led to several high-profile union-busting U.S. Supreme Court cases, such as Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association and Janus v. AFSCME. Though the former was a tie in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Janus case ruling meant that unions could no longer compel government employees to pay dues that violate one’s freedom of speech.