Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Building a Sustainable Union

There is possibly some irony that once the mobilized rebellion of a graduate student organizing drive successfully storms the institutional ramparts, it finds itself turned into an institution, a legally recognized and responsible organization. Before recognition, the focus of the proto-union is entirely upon mobilizing. The end goal of action is well-defined: the creation of a democratic organization that gives graduate assistants collective say in the terms and conditions of their employment. This ideal is an actively motivating one for many. After recognition, the goals of the union become multiple, less clear and less actively motivating in and of themselves. The strength or weakness of a contract's grievance procedure, for example, will probably not motivate many rank and file members to become more actively involved in their union. The democratic ideal becomes intertwined with the mundanity of its implementation, with work that is daily, sustained, long term. The work of the union needs to take into account more than resolving the present crisis, whatever that crisis may be.

The Epic Importance of the Mundane is a great article. Please read it in its entirety if you can.