The CoHE reports that graduate students are protesting the University of Chicago's new graduate funding packages--not the packages themselves, but the university's decision that they will be "available only for graduate students who enrolled beginning in the 2007-8 academic year." (You can see the funding blog here.) Graduate student funding at the U has apparently not budged very far with inflation; the $1500 that one poster notes is the stipend for a TAship, for example, is in the ballpark of what I earned as a TA in the mid-90s. I had an external fellowship, so I don't recollect exactly what the university's living stipends were in the '90s, but the $12K I see cited here looks awfully familiar.
When I was at the U of C, graduate students resisted unionization because, as one fellow doctoral candidate noted, the U was doing a lousy job of exploiting us. The real problem at the time was not too much teaching, but too little. The U has always prided itself on putting t-t faculty in front of undergraduates; moreover, graduate students noticeably outnumber the undergraduates. And no freshman composition! During my stay from '92-'97, the English department guaranteed students one--count 'em, one--TAship, which meant leading a once-per-week discussion section. Students needed to be in their sixth year to apply to teach a full course on their own. (I managed to finagle a second TAship because, as even I was capable of realizing, there was no way in heck, hell, or any other "h" that I could get a job on the basis of ten one-hour discussion meetings. [I couldn't get a job with two of them, either...]) There were a few other teaching opportunities available on campus, like the Little Red Schoolhouse or university extension, but most students adjuncted or worked as graders at area colleges. Things have now changed a little, with students in English guaranteed at least one stand-alone course.