TL;DR: The union expressed outrage at NYU’s recent demands for students to remain in the US in order to work in the fall and demanded a reversal of this position. We were met with more silence, rambling excuses, and slowing tactics by NYU’s legal team.
This bargaining session focused on the issue of international and immigrant students. Particularly, raising the issue of NYU’s recent announcement of policies regarding remote work for international students, whereby workers cannot teach from countries outside the US. This comes after months of NYU guaranteeing us that work would be available remotely.
After making a series of detailed information requests pertaining to health insurance coverage for grad workers abroad, we shifted the conversation to addressing the urgent concerns of students affected by NYU’s new remote work policy. The policy discriminates against any international student not in the US by denying them employment, at a time when people must stay home to take care of family members and international travel is restricted and often prohibitively expensive to book with short notice, not to mention the lack of access to visas. This decision comes a mere three weeks before the beginning of the semester, which is far from a reasonable timeline to expect someone to move back to New York and potentially find housing and get settled, not to mention quarantine for two weeks, before being able to begin work.
When the Bargaining Committee expressed their outrage at this situation and demanded an explanation, the defense NYU presented was essentially that the situation was “complicated”, that there were many “complex” issues related to taxation and the legality of employment abroad which could not be described during the call because each country was different, and that the whole situation was very “complicated” and that they were doing their best. All this, despite the recent announcements by several private US universities that their graduate workers would be able to continue working from abroad.
To drive the point home regarding the pressing nature of international and immigrant student issues, four NYU international graduate workers presented testimonials of how they had been affected, both by the COVID pandemic itself as well as the policy fallout surrounding it.
NYU responded with well wishes, but clearly no remorse regarding what they were doing to their own worker population.
This bargaining session was yet another example of NYU’s unwillingness to negotiate with us. We responded to their previous questions regarding our proposals on compensation, and saw no counter proposals of any kind on any of the issues we have raised. We have been bargaining with them since June and have yet to receive any meaningful suggestions from them regarding our impact bargaining or contract proposals. They ended the session by asking a few random clarifying questions on some of our contract demands. They offered no proposals or constructive suggestions, which is at this point both disappointing and unsurprising.
We added a few information requests to our pending list:
- What kind of coverage will workers outside of NYC, but in the US have under the SHIP?
- Will providers at SHC be able to write prescriptions for those residing outside of the tri-state area?
- What kind of coverage will workers outside of the US have under the SHIP?
- Will they have access to GeoBlue in the same way that Study Away students previously have had?
- Will providers at SHC be able to write prescriptions for those residing outside of the US?
- Will NYU still force workers outside the US to pay for healthcare costs out-of-pocket and then be reimbursed either 80% under the Basic Plan or 90% under the Comprehensive and Tandon Plans?
- If so, what kind of documentation do they need and what are the processes for reimbursing the cost of obtaining these docs, esp. translations of receipts etc?
NYU has still not addressed three of our previous information requests, regarding:
- Projected employment for the coming school year
- Information on which departments have implemented changes in hiring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Information on which departments have suffered budget cuts, and which parts of their budgets have been cut.