Irony of wage Negotiations

I was impressed that the DI’s Oct. 29 editorial cartoon by Jake Thompson glimmers with the great irony of wage negotiations at Illinois: some are so overcompensated for their 50-80 hrs/work per week that they have started to believe that they earned this money legitimately. And even worse, the people of the State of Illinois go along with this!

I don’t mean to lecture you on the very un-democratic nature of this labor system, but this is my job. Yes, I was granted admission as a ph.D. student because the people of the state of Illinois wanted to support me in becoming an historian of working and underpaid people in the United States. So, I feel compelled to share with you my research. This is how capitalism works: a) a few people get their hands on challenging, interesting jobs; b) as their responsibilities grow, they pay others, under the guise of “apprenticeship,” to do the menial parts of their job that they do not like (in our case, grading, actually discussing things with students, bookkeeping, simple research); c) these people with interesting jobs feel threatened by their trainees, so they try and control them by paying them less than a living wage.

Currently, on top of my dissertation I am working 20 hours a week grading for a course 2,000-3,000 years outside my specialization. I am paid $891 per month. Administrators are telling me that they have a right to better food and health care than I. They have the right to raise children without going into debt, while I do not. They have the right to travel to see family on holidays, and I do not.

Is this the American democracy that the people of the state of Illinois are paying me to someday profess?

Janine Giordano

graduate student