Members of the Graduate Student Employees Union (CWA Local 1104) at Binghamton University in New York won a major victory last week when the university announced that Ph.D. student employees will no longer be responsible for paying burdensome, mandatory fees. The students had spent years mobilizing against the fees, which average up to 15 percent of the stipends graduate workers are paid.
In many cases, these fees fund systems and services that graduate workers rely on to do their jobs, such as the software programs used to collect and assess student assignments and submit grades. This constitutes a “pay-to-work” system in which employees are being charged for the maintenance and upkeep of the workplace.
Unfortunately, student workers seeking master's degrees are still subject to this fee, but the GSEU members are committed to continue to fight until all graduate workers are free from onerous school fees.