Workhorses of the Lab, Harvard Crimson, 5/23

“In a survey of FAS postdocs last year, 199 respondents reported that they worked an average of 55 hours per week, and a majority said they make between $40,000 and $55,000 per year. Slightly over half of the respondents said they did not make enough money to cover their living expenses.

Nearly three quarters of those with children said they were dissatisfied with childcare options, and one respondent wrote that he was living paycheck to paycheck because of the high cost of childcare.”

Trump Eyes Union-Buster for NLRB, Politico, 4/25

“Starting with Ronald Reagan, Republican presidents have often named stridently anti-union executives and attorneys to the NLRB. But labor and management sources queried by POLITICO couldn’t remember a previous instance when a president placed on the NLRB a “union avoidance” consultant or “persuader,” an occupation known colloquially as union-buster. The Labor Department requires union-busters to disclose their anti-union campaigns publicly. Seaton has done so on six occasions, most recently in May 2016.”

Graduate Students are Underpaid and Overstressed, PBS NewsHour, 4/19

UAW Local 2865, for instance, which represents all University of California teaching campuses, has achieved a host of guarantees for 16,000 student workers since it became fully recognized in 1999. Those benefits include child care reimbursement, a 17 percent wage increase over four years and protections against arbitrary firing, discrimination and harassment. Dues-paying members of the union get to vote on initiatives, but the protections extend to all eligible student workers at the system’s unionized institutions.

“As a union for post-doc researchers, we are able to negotiate for mental health packages, and there is a way to work with university administration to optimize health care benefits,” said Anke Schennink, veterinary geneticist and president of postdoctoral union UAW Local 5810 at the University of California Davis.”

After Outcry, Grad Students to Receive Summer Stipend Lump Sum Option, The Harvard Crimson, 4/19

“After some graduate students criticized a change in their summer stipend distribution, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will allow students to receive their stipend in one lump sum on June 1, as it has in past years.”

March for Science, Harvard Website, 4/22

“HGSU-UAW is an official partner in the March for Science.”

In FAS Budget Woes, Echoes of Recession Era, The Harvard Crimson, 4/17

“Poor endowment returns and dwindling cash reserves have compelled FAS to decrease the number of graduate students accepted this year by 4.4 percent. Additionally, Faculty compensation and graduate student stipends are both increasing at a rate below the rate of inflation. In February, Smith said most new faculty hires would only replace departed or retired faculty members.

“I think there’s a lot of concern that the FAS budget is looking at some problems for the foreseeable future,” Menand said.”

Modest Pay Bump Exacerbates Financial Worries Among Profs, The Harvard Crimson, 4/12

“Some professors are anxious about the financial future of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences after a recent announcement that they will receive a 1.5 percent compensation increase for the coming year, a bump that falls below the current of inflation and last year’s raise.

Government Department Chair Jennifer L. Hochschild said she and her colleagues are “annoyed” with the current financial situation.

“We would like to hire more faculty, we would like to have smaller sections, we would like better compensation,” she said. “There’s all kinds of things we would like to spend money on. Cognitively, we understand that that’s not possible because they’ve told us that, but emotionally it just doesn’t seem right.””

Securing Workplace Rights for Scientists in the Age of Trump, NatureJobs, 4/05

“In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, the scientific community is on edge. The future of federal science funding remains unclear, campus inclusivity is under threat, immigration policy is in disarray, and entire academic fields – such as climate change research – fear the worst…

But with our four-year union contract, postdoctoral scholars at the University of California (UC) are showing how collective bargaining can ensure that science moves forward. For academic workers – and all workers – unions are necessary now more than ever to protect and advance our rights.”

Graduate Student Squeeze, Harvard Magazine, 3/31

“Graduate students currently receive annual stipends ranging from about $33,100 to $36,700, including summer funding, and typically have received annual raises in the 3 percent range, similar to compensation increases for University staff. Members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, the University’s largest union, receive 3.4 percent annual raises, under a contract negotiated last year. The University reported recently that rents for Harvard-owned apartments will increase 3 percent on average next year. Boston-area inflation was around 3 percent during the last year, according to the U.S. Labor Department.’”

Under Financial Pressure, GSAS Plans Unusually Low Stipend Increase, The Harvard Crimson, 3/31

“The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will increase student stipends by 1.5 percent in the 2017-2018 academic year, an unusually small increase that GSAS Dean Xiao-Li Meng attributed to poor returns on Harvard’s endowment….

The cost of housing will also increase. As GSAS student stipends increase by 1.5 percent next year, rent for GSAS dorms will also increase by 1.5 percent. Rent for Harvard University Housing—Harvard-owned apartments whose rent is controlled by the University, not GSAS—will increase by 3 percent on average.”

Harvard’s ART Institute Suspends Admissions, Boston Globe, 2/19

“Harvard University’s ART Institute, a graduate program in theater, has suspended admissions after the US Department of Education gave the program a “failing” grade for burdening its graduates with unmanageable levels of student debt.

In an announcement last week, the Education Department listed Harvard’s ART Institute among hundreds of college and university programs across the country that did not meet federal regulations governing the amount of debt students can accrue when measured against their expected earnings.”

What the Fugitive Slave Act Can Teach Us About Sanctuary Cities , Time, 2/07

“Trump’s proposed sanctuary-city crackdown would, it appears, bear many similarities to the Fugitive Slave Act. Like the 1850 law, it would move a controversial area of the law — immigration regulations, and the often violent way in which they can be enforced — away from the abstract realm to the concrete reality of major American cities. It would also, like the 1850 law, create common ground between activists on the issue and those who are merely opponents of federal encroachment.”

Faust Says Harvard Will Not Be a ‘Sanctuary Campus’, Time, 12/07

“Given the importance of the word ‘sanctuary’ in the national discussion, the opportunity that Harvard has to take up moral leadership in that discussion, and the immense importance of the word to our students, [most] specifically to their sense that the University is willing to stand… by their side, why not use it,” Johnson said.”

How a Grad Union Could Fix Disparities Across Harvard, The Harvard Crimson, 6/6/16

“In order to meet our basic needs, many of us end up prioritizing external consultancies and other outside jobs unrelated to our research. Predictably, this greatly reduces the time and attention we can devote to our coursework and dissertation research, and runs contrary to the entire purpose of our programs. Meanwhile, the benefits offered to PhDs seem like pipe dreams to those of us toiling without so much as a basic living stipend.

Forming a university-wide graduate employee union is a concrete and constructive act of solidarity among all students who perform important work for Harvard University. Instead of working on an individual basis, TFs, TAs, and RAs could collectively bargain over important issues, from teaching compensation to spousal health insurance benefits.”