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Why I’m Voting Yes

Lizzie Eisenberg is a PhD student in Political Science and Guest Lecturer in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. See our Proposed Contract Discussion page for more on this subject.

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This contract has shortcomings. I have been a graduate student for 6 years. I have been a Graduate Assistant B, a Teaching Assistant, and an adjunct. I have taught regular courses sometimes with 120 students in a semester, and I have taught Masters level courses where the level of involvement and attention needed is very high. I have carried this teaching load while neglecting my own graduate studies because I have needed the money, and I have borrowed more money than I can imagine paying back. I know that this is not an unusual situation. In fact, in our school—it’s par. This contract is not going to change my life. But I still plan on voting to ratify it.

I’m not prepared to reject a contract that can provide at least some help to people who have been struggling for far too long because we haven’t been able to make a deal. We have to work harder for the next contract. We haven’t been organized enough to get the leverage we need for the gains that we want, both as a union and as a chapter. Truthfully, we still have plenty of work to do as a chapter and it is work I am ready for.

The Graduate Center chapter of the PSC is the only chapter in which full-time faculty do not make up the majority of eligible members. That makes our chapter a possible vehicle to place issues affecting more vulnerable PSC members front and center. For this reason, it is especially important that we build a chapter that is so organized, so informed, and so tough, that it can be a powerful advocate within the union as well as a resource that strengthens the union in its effort to support members earning poverty wages.

All of this is to say, organizing the rank-and-file in such a way that produces real power is hard work and it’s crucial. Helping people to understand why this contract has problems is crucial too. I certainly am no apologist for its failures.

However- I do recognize that if we vote this contract down, there are no good outcomes. A strike under current conditions would not be effective for us, our students, and our organization. Returning to the bargaining table weakened by internal dissent will not yield a better deal for us. The concerns and shortcomings in this deal outlined by groups opposed to it are serious. The efforts of those who are doing the legwork to explain these shortcomings are communicating issues that many of us feel and will continue to feel. Even so, the inadequacies of this contract are not a reason to reject it. These inadequacies are a call to increase our efforts, organization, and pragmatism.

I hope many of you will join the efforts to increase the power of the GC chapter- because I now have, and I think we can achieve a lot.

Sincerely,

Lizzie Eisenberg


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