Graduate student workers at Loyola can now hold a second job outside their university employment, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tom Regan formally announced at the graduate student orientation Tuesday.
Loyola’s graduate student workers — who voted to unionize in February 2017 — haven’t been recognized as a union by the university, despite their non-tenure track (NTT) faculty counterparts reaching an agreement with the university in April. The graduate student workers have also been recognized as a union by the National Labor Relations Board.
Most recently, representatives from the graduate union held up a sign from a boat in Lake Michigan just offshore from Loyola’s Crown Center for the Humanities after the union was denied a table at Tuesday’s graduate student orientation.
Graduate student workers in the College of Arts and Sciences work up to 20 hours a week and are paid a yearly stipend — and, until Tuesday, were prohibited from holding outside employment.
University officials have repeatedly said they don’t consider graduate student workers “employees” under Loyola’s definition of the term, which it derives from the National Labor Relations Act.
“[They’re] students in every sense of the word,” Loyola spokesperson Evangeline Politis has said.
Many graduate student workers have disagreed, saying over and over they grade papers, teach classes and hold outside office hours as part of their job. To show Loyola community members the extent of their responsibilities, the graduate student union joined the NTT faculty union in holding a “grade-in” last December inside Damen Student Center.
Jean Clifford, 30, is a graduate student assistant who teaches philosophy. She said the second job rule was likely rolled back because many graduate students ignored it anyway, but she said the idea behind it was still wrong.
“It was a very suffocating clause,” Clifford, a third-year doctorate student, said. “To ask somebody who you are paying $18,000 per year to quit their second job is absurd.”
While Clifford said she’s relieved the stress behind the policy is now gone, a raise for graduate student workers would be better, because as of now they’re forced to work these other jobs.
“We don’t want second jobs,” Clifford said. “It’s not like we’re bored.”
It’s another small point of progress for the union, now about 230 active members strong, which was denied recognition and the opportunity to negotiate with Loyola last October. Graduate workers did, at the time, get a $500 increase in their stipends.
They’ve also gotten dental coverage added to their health care plans and increased professionalization funding, according to Faculty Forward, a group under Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents the graduate union.
But SEIU said without official university recognition, those wins aren’t guaranteed to be permanent.
Georgetown University’s graduate student union was recognized in April after a denial in December. Graduate student workers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reached a tentative contract with the university in March.
The NTT faculty union and the graduate student union have used each other’s momentum to gain traction in the fight for recognition. They’ve backed each others’ demonstrations and demands as they’ve fought concurrent battles to bargain with Loyola.