Graduate students at MIT have voted to form a union by a 2-to-1 margin. Organizers said the result was a response to the growing challenges facing students — who teach, conduct research and provide academic support on the Cambridge campus — and in keeping with the institute’s experimental spirit. Fifth-year doctoral student Lilly Chin leapt back into organizing to help with the get-out-the-vote campaign in the computer science department, one of MIT’s largest. “My phone was buzzing for five minutes straight: ‘Make sure so-and-so can get to the polls,’ ” Chin said. The count Wednesday happened quickly, but it was still “a little nerve-racking,” said Ki-Jana Carter, an organizer and fifth-year doctoral student in material science and engineering.
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Washington, D.C. - Hundreds of people converged in Washington, D.C. on Monday for a national day of action to demand that the Biden administration cancel all outstanding federal student loan debt via executive order. "All it takes is a signature," said the Debt Collective, a debtors' union that organized the "Pick Up the Pen, Joe" demonstration, which was supported by a coalition that includes dozens of progressive advocacy groups and labor unions. Following speeches and performances in front of the Eisenhower Memorial, the crowd marched outside the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Monday's rally and march in the nation's capital had a simple message for President Joe Biden: Use your executive authority to wipe out the roughly $1.6 trillion in federal student debt that is holding back more than 45 million federal borrowers in the United States.
Students swell the picket lines of dining service workers. Staff fight for cancellation of exorbitant graduate student workers’ fees. Undergraduate student workers learn about the precarity and low pay behind the title “adjunct” and demand their university administrations do better. Tenured faculty insist that part-time instructors receive benefits. Across higher education, workers are realizing that they depend on each other to get work done, from faculty, academic staff, graduate and undergraduate student workers, to janitors and clerical and technical workers—and the landscape of organizing is changing. Higher education labor unions have generally been stratified, but now universities with multiple unions representing various types of employees are seeing increased cooperation and collaboration.
The Debt Collective is upping the ante in their fight for full federal student debt cancellation with their Pick Up the Pen, Joe! rally and day of action today in front of the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. The event comes roughly a month before the pause on loan repayments is set to expire on May 1. Some White House sources have indicated the Biden administration may move that deadline again or forgive some amount of debt, but regardless, the Debt Collective’s focus remains squarely on eliminating federal student debt in full. A broad coalition of more than 50 community organizations and labor unions from across the country are joining the Debt Collective in the nation’s capital to call on Biden to cancel all federal student debt through executive order.
Sacramento, California - In an incredible show of solidarity, Sacramento parents and students have organized a sit-in to support striking teachers and support staff. Parents have been camping out at district headquarters in the Serna Center, calling for the school board to meet with teachers and reach an agreement. They are watching movies and playing board games, and have vowed to continue the sit-in until the district takes action. These community-led tactics demonstrate the interconnectedness between teachers and their communities. Since March 23, 4,000 educators in Sacramento have been on strike demanding higher pay in pace with inflation, increased staffing in their schools, no cuts to health benefits, and improved support for students.