February 20, 2017
CHESTNUT HILL— Members of BCGEU-UAW express their solidarity with GENU-UAW, the graduate student union at Northeastern University, in the face of a deeply dishonest attack from the Northeastern administration.
Members of the Northeastern administration attempted to use the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban to attack their own graduate students, many of them international students, for organizing in support of a graduate student union. They portrayed the UAW, the union that BCGEU and GENU have both elected to affiliate with, and which represents over 60,000 graduate employees across the nation, as an outside force attempting to capitalize on graduate student fears. This is a common tactic intended to undercut the work of Northeastern graduate employees and to prevent them from exercising their legal right to form a union.
In the face of such misinformation, it is important to keep the facts in mind:
WE ARE THE UNION. Like BCGEU-UAW, GENU-UAW was launched, and is organized and operated by graduate employees addressing specific issues on their own campus, aiming to make their university a better place to work and study. Like graduate employees at other schools in the Boston area, including UMass and Harvard, we have each chosen to affiliate with the UAW, the largest organizer of graduate employees in the country. While the international union supports us, graduate employee unions are fueled by us—our issues, our needs, our goals, and our hard work.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE THE UNION. Graduate colleagues from all over the world have been central to building our unions. BCGEU-UAW members come from Canada, Cuba, China, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and many other nations. They have been among our most enthusiastic organizers and members.
UNIONS PROTECT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. International graduate employees especially need the security of a union contract because they are commonly not allowed to work outside the university. Without a contract, graduate teaching and research assistants can be—and are—dismissed at the university’s discretion, without due process or recourse. Unionized graduate employees affiliated with the UAW have successfully fought discriminatory international student fees, saved the jobs of wrongfully terminated international employees, and expanded funding opportunities for international students.
WE’RE LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANTS. Members of BCGEU-UAW, GENU-UAW, and the rest of the UAW international have been on the front lines of protecting our international colleagues from the political threats of the last month. As UAW regional director Julie Kushner explained, “Members of UAW Region 9A are actively engaged at airport rallies, the courts, and elsewhere demanding the freedom of those being detained. Members of UAW Region 9A are also deeply involved in the legal work and organizing to protect those who are the targets of the administration’s war on immigrants and refugees.” Members of BCGEU-UAW and GENU-UAW have been actively engaged in these efforts in solidarity with our international colleagues.