To explain – factory workers go to work every day and transform capital into profit by making products. Students transform capital into profit when interest and penalties are added to a principle loan.
In itself, this system is acceptable in capitalist terms. However, it becomes unacceptable when there are abuses to the many for the benefit of the few without a method of recourse.
Before the establishment of the eight-hour workday and over-time pay, factory owners notoriously overworked their employees without compensation. Largely through the support of labor unions, these legal protections were established.
A problem also exists if the rights of student debtors are abused.
Amid budget cuts and tuition hikes in countless U.S. universities – public tuition has increased 24% in the last five years alone, 17% for private universities – students absorb the cost through increased debt.
When it comes to student loans, usury and bankruptcy protections do not apply. In fact, student loans (federal and private) are the only type of loan that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy in all of U.S. history. In addition, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) – which requires full disclosure of terms and costs associated with borrowing from lenders – does not apply to student loans.
Accordingly, debtors can benefit from union representation – particularly when it comes to negotiating better terms of loan repayment.
Presently, EDU Debtors Union is a proposition and a website focused on this question: “Who are student debtors and do they want to create a union?”
Further, what would that union do? How might it benefit and support debtors? What are the goals of that union?