Detractors of unionization point to the quality of Cornell’s stipends and benefits—why unionize when we are already treated so well? While Cornell is typically generous with support, this luxury should not be taken for granted. The benefits we enjoy are privileges hard–won by organized workers of the past, and at Cornell have no guarantee by law or contract.
The university bylaws stipulate that Cornell is a corporation and “the Board of Trustees shall have supreme control over the University, including every college, school, and academic department, division and center thereof.” This includes our pay and benefits. If the presidential election taught us anything, it should be that our leaders and the policies they advance can change dramatically overnight, that progress unprotected can be unceremoniously whisked away.
Perhaps we have nothing to fear from Cornell’s present board, but times are changing and many benefits given graciously now may soon lose government-supplied alternatives. Our interim president insists we are better off negotiating as individuals, that it is in the interests of the University, but his interim governance will soon end—will his predecessor’s interests match his own? The closer we are, the stronger we are. We can’t trust anyone but ourselves to consistently advance our interests.