Hailey, Georgetown University
Labor Relations Board,
I am a PhD candidate at Georgetown University in Philosophy. For all but a single semester of my 7.5 years at Georgetown, I have worked as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate. As a Teaching Assistant, I led discussion sections, graded papers and exams, held office hours and review sessions, and performed many more tasks. As a Teaching Associate, I taught my own classes as Instructor of Record. As Instructor of Record I performed the exact same work that tenured faculty perform: I was the person responsible for design and implementation of an entire undergraduate philosophy class. For both roles I was paid a yearly salary by my employer; I paid taxes on that salary just like any employee would. For these roles I have also been required to undergo training as a mandatory reporter of campus harassment and discrimination, just like other University employees.
Further, the reason it is taking me 7.5 years to finish the PhD is because I have held these employment roles at Georgetown every semester. If it were true that being a TA or teaching your own class is ‘part of your graduate education’ and furthers that education, why is it the case that for me, and so many of my colleagues, holding these roles extends one’s time to completing the degree and is experienced as a disruption of or distraction from performing the tasks one needs to perform to finish (e.g. writing the dissertation)?
My question for the NLRB is: if graduate assistants like myself must shoulder the burdens of employee status, from paying taxes to being Title IX reporters to many more things, how can you justify withholding the corresponding privileges of employee status from us?
The answer is that it cannot be justified. For these and many more reasons I ask that you uphold the Columbia decision and respect the labor and rights of graduate workers. We are workers and we will not back down from claiming our rights as such.