Labor Relations Board,
As a PhD candidate in German at Princeton University and a member of the AFT Academics graduate workers union, I would like to object to the NLRB’s proposed rule changes on graduate student labor organizing. Despite any claims that we do our labor as students and not employees, the work we do is fundamental to the smooth functioning of any institute of higher learning. My home department, for instance, is proud to boast of its success in recruiting enthusiastic students for its language programs and to become German majors, a task made possible only by the graduate workers who are undergraduates’ first exposure to our program. We teach all of the language courses from day one, taking time out of our research schedules to prepare lessons, respond to student questions and offer one-on-one help. This commitment to our students both inside and outside of the classroom is responsible for giving them the linguistic fluency employers in our summer internship program so admire, and for convincing students in introductory language to follow through to our upper-level courses and even to major in German. I have spent many hours – even in semesters when I was not teaching – meeting with students to talk about the benefits of our program, and have personally persuaded several to make the jump to becoming majors. The labor graduate students put in is a vital engine for the university’s productivity and prestige, and we deserve to be treated like the workers we so self-evidently are.