Can you offer your perspective on unionization in modern workforces and CGSU in this context?

Date: March 2017


Dear Deans,

As an ambivalent supporter of the union, I have been paying close attention to your carefully worded responses to questions about CGSU.

It would help me understand your position and my own if you shared with us what you think of labor movements and unions in general. 

Can you offer your perspective on unionization in modern workforces and a few comments of how you understand CGSU in this context?


Ambivalent Union Supporter


Dear Ambivalent Union Supporter,

Thanks for your question. I’m not sure that my personal views on labor movements and unions in general will be of interest to others, but since you asked, I’ll respond briefly. I support, and have supported in the past, union movements of various types. Prior to working at Cornell, for example, I volunteered for a labor union (the United Farm Workers of America) and continued to be a financial contributor to their efforts. 

In my view, labor unions have a key role to play particularly in situations where the workers have no other opportunity for collective impact and effective voice. At Cornell, graduate students are ably represented by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, who have demonstrated themselves to be effective advocates for graduate/professional students, able to clearly articulate strategic goals and to accomplish them. In addition, graduate/professional students have a voting voice on the Board of Trustees through their elected student Trustees, two voting members on the General Committee of the Graduate School, and an active voice on numerous committees and task forces at department, college, and university levels. 

I hope you find these thoughts useful.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School