For many of us, being a graduate student is synonymous with being an employee of a university. We are often paid to teach, to conduct research, to supervise other students, or to provide clinical services. As graduate assistants, we are employees who undertake the critical work of higher education within our field. In this way, we deserve the rights and privilege of employees anywhere.
For this reason, graduate student employees in the United States and Canada are organizing student employee labor unions in ever-greater numbers to protect their rights and establish fair workplace practices. Whether or not a group of student employees chooses to unionize is their choice entirely; however, I believe that this right to choose should be honored and respected. Moreover, graduate student employees in psychology, whether unionized or not, should expect a baseline level of workplace rights and securities.
As APAGS Chair, I plan to push for the establishment of APA graduate student employee workplace standards. Certainly, this is an aspirational goal. Nevertheless, I believe that highlighting the work of graduate student employees within psychology is critical for advancing graduate students’ quality of life and opening the door to a brighter future of graduate training in psychology.
Graduate student employees from New York University, The New School for Social Research, Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst attending United Auto Workers’ Region 9A Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Right Award Night in Hartford, Connecticut, January 2015