A philosopher writes:
My correspondent is surely right that this would set a very dangerous precedent. One thing faculty can do is to honor a strke by graduate TAs. Other advice from readers elsewhere who have confronted similar issues?
In case you haven't heard about this: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is in negotiations with the Graduate Employees' Organization (http://www.uigeo.org/) over the administrations attempt to reduce and/or remove tuition waivers from graduate students in fine and applied arts. The administration is asserting unilateral control over tuition waivers and claims that incoming graduate teaching assistants are not automatically covered under the GEO contract (which seems absurd to me). For its part, the GEO is preparing to strike if it comes to that. And they have a history of striking: they did so in 2009.
Although the relevance to philosophy might not be immediately obvious, it seems to me that if the university administration wins this fight, then it will eventually be bad news for humanities as well as for fine and applied arts. If the administration can cut funding for graduate students in fine and applied arts, they can surely cut funding for graduate students in lowly programs like philosophy. And especially at UIUC, cutting humanities may seem like a fine thing to do, since science and technology research are what most people think of when they think of UIUC.
Worse, I think, is that other universities are likely to take their cue from UIUC. If the administration successfully cuts tuition waivers, then other universities are, I think, likely to follow suit. It would save a boatload of money at the low, low cost of actually having quality graduate programs (and maybe impoverishing a bunch of people who want to study politically disfavored subjects -- and who cares about them, really?).
Regardless of whether you discuss this on your blog, I wonder if you might make suggest what practical steps faculty might take to support the graduate students.