Yale professor Nicholas Christakis is a physician and sociologist best known for his research on human social networks. But Christakis gained new expertise on Twitter mobs after he remarked on the website that graduate students, now moving to unionize at the school, are “not ordinary workers” and predicted unionizing might leave them with fewer opportunities in university labs.
The digital caterwauling included a myriad of accusations, including that Christakis doesn’t care for graduate students’ welfare. One attorney even said he reported Christakis to federal regulators for his “threat of reprisal.”
But the professor had offered a sound diagnosis. Separate from questions about how graduate students should be compensated, people who receive money while pursuing advanced degrees were never meant to be covered by the National Labor Relations Act, the country’s creaky labor relations law crafted almost a century ago.