Stony Brook Worker Editorial Introduction

As the editors of The Stony Brook Worker, we are excited to present to you the first issue of our new publication. We are all members and organizers in the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU) at Stony Brook University. Our campus and community is home to many different labor struggles, all of which are invaluable. The struggles that we endure collectively keep the workers that make up our community safe and healthy, and we seek to ensure that all of us receive what we deserve: a fair wage, respect, dignity, and a life that is fulfilling.

Even though it is our labor and collective efforts that build, sustain, and further our institutions at and beyond Stony Brook University, we have noticed that many of us are not aware of each others’ struggles and issues. And while we are divided and alienated from one another in this context, those who manage our workplaces move with unified action and communication. This needs to change. We may be workers toiling away in different places, jobs, and capacities, but the issues that we face — including but not limited to overwork, lack of hazard pay, expectations to perform unpaid labor, and of course wages that are below any living wage thresholds — apply to us all, and they unify us in a clear way: As divided individuals, we are at the behest of our respective employers, but when we unite as workers, we can challenge those power dynamics.

This current status quo of power structures between workers and managers in our workplaces and in society overall reflects a clear imperative for us to break down the barriers between us, and to unite as workers. This unity is indispensable if we are to create a workplace in which we have a voice. Striving for complete workplace democracy, we envision a workplace in which the power of determination over our lives and workplace lie within our own hands, and we believe this to be a fundamental requirement of a democratic and just society as a whole. That is why we see labor solidarity as directly tied to our living conditions beyond our campus community. 

Furthermore, we know that many of us who are academic workers produce significant research that intersects with labor issues. This work may be difficult for everyone to reach and relate to since, up until this moment, we did not have a unified publication dedicated to this topic. We believe that the political and practical promises of this kind of research need an outlet that will combine academic research and labor struggles, and communicate these to our community on a regular basis.

Guided by these principles and visions, we decided to start The Stony Brook Worker as a publication that will unify practical, historical, and theoretical questions and themes related to all aspects of labor, and to create a platform for our community where we can share ideas and advance our struggles. In these pages of the first issue of The Stony Brook Worker, we have interviews with all the unions on our campus, as well as with the Long Island Federation of Labor, in which we discuss various issues and struggles that they are facing. You will also find historical accounts of the origins of May Day, the abolition of broad-based fees at Stony Brook, and GSEU’s Living Wage Campaign. We also give you an overview of Fordham University graduate workers’ recent successful unionization campaign in which GSEU organizers played an active role. Moreover, this issue includes an art review of a recent exhibition curated by graduate workers, a review of the conference “The Global Sixties in the Global South” that took place at SBU, and an investigation of issues related to housing, which affects graduate students and the Suffolk County community at large. We hope that our publication will encourage and further meaningful discourse about these issues in our community.

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