Letter to the editor

April 27, 2018

To the Editor,
I’m a graduate worker at Brandeis University.

I work, hard.

1: On top of my academic duties, I do lab research and spend long hours running experiments. I spend days writing and rewriting grant proposals or presentations. I teach, mentor, grade and guide undergraduates.

I work, and other graduate students do the same. We work every day for Brandeis, for our education, for the advancement of scholarship, and for the good of the undergraduate population that our teaching supports. Brandeis works because we work, often without adequate support or compensation.

Last year, we voted to unionize as teaching assistants. We have more than earned the right to have our needs as employees met. We pick up the slack when we aren’t given materials we need in time, or when we get inadequate training for our responsibilities. We tough it out when we can’t afford to commute and eat on the same day because our students need us on campus but transit isn’t subsidized. And for too many of us, we’ve kept our heads down when we knew something wrong had occurred in our classrooms because we didn’t believe our voices would be heard.

That’s why we unionized. Because there is power in numbers. Because we have to speak together to put in place systems that allow us to safely speak for ourselves. Because we need to have more support, organizationally and monetarily, in order to do our work well. In order to survive and thrive.

We unionized because we want to set a new precedent, one where our contributions are respected, where we can access what we need to do our jobs.

We have been bargaining for six months now, working to translate our desire for better working conditions and compensation into a fair union contract. It’s time for Brandeis to recognize that a fair contract is the path to a better Brandeis. A Brandeis that can begin to live and breathe its ideals.

Thank you,
Anna Henkin
Ph.D. Candidate, Biochemistry and Biophysics

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