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Beryl Lieff Benderly

California Legislature Approves Unionization Right for Graduate Research Assistants

The 16,000 graduate students who work as research assistants on the campuses of the University of California (UC) and California State University may soon gain the right to unionize, reports the Associated Press (AP). A bill to extend that right, which is already enjoyed by teaching assistants and UC postdocs, has passed the state senate on 25 August. It had already passed the legislature’s lower house and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature to become law.

Introduced in both houses by Democrats representing UC Berkeley, the bill faced opposition by Republicans wanting to avoid additional costs to the state that would likely follow unionization. “Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican from Twin Peaks, blamed most of the extra costs on benefits and pay for university employees who belong to public employee unions,” the AP writes. People in authority aren’t usually so blatant about the institutional benefits of exploiting graduate students.