TL; DR: NYU again failed to provide concrete responses to both our impact and regular bargaining proposals.
GSOC engaged in our first bargaining session with NYU after the expiration date of our contract passed on August 31st. We extended the terms of our contract for 1 month while we continue bargaining, allowing grievance and potential arbitration proceedings to move forward for the benefit of our members.
GSOC used this bargaining session to emphasize the importance of increased support for student workers who are parents. In a series of moving testimonials, several rank and file members outlined the inadequacies of NYU’s parental support and the need for NYU to use its vast financial resources to ensure that the costs of childcare do not fall on its workers.
Beyond these testimonials, remarkably little occurred in our bargaining session. NYU has continued to ignore or reject most of our impact bargaining proposals, which have been on the table since June. These demands, such as PPE, health insurance for students abroad, and payment for costs related to transitioning labor online, are urgent and related to ongoing threats and costs related to COVID-19.
NYU’s bargaining committee also reiterated today that they intend not to negotiate on any of GSOC’s demands regarding NYPD’s relationship with NYU, including the health and safety and discrimination concerns caused by the presence of police officers on campus. NYU’s committee also insisted that it is not required to present a counterproposal to each of GSOC’s contract proposals. In effect, they suggested that any demand to which NYU did not directly respond could be considered rejected by NYU. If true, this would mean that NYU is refusing to negotiate over the vast majority of GSOC’s proposals and most of its impact bargaining demands.
For months now, GSOC has stressed the urgency of all our demands, often with impassioned testimonials from student workers. Today, we again expressed our disappointment with the slow pace of NYU’s responses.
In response to NYU’s counter-proposals, GSOC also presented modified counter-proposals related to compensation, childcare, the contract length, and vacation days:
- We initially asked for $46/hour for hourly workers with a 3.5% increase each year of the contract. We lowered this ask to $40/hour and rejected NYU ‘s proposal for tiered compensation salaries between Ph.D. and masters workers.
- During the last session, NYU offered to double the amount of money available for parental support compared to the previous contract (from $100K to $200K), but GSOC responded that this offer was still far below the amount of money required to pay for childcare in New York City. We lowered our original subsidy to $12,000 per year per child for all children of 12 years of age or under with the expectation that NYU responds to the sections pertaining to child care such as: a) subsidies for children above 12, b) subsidies for expenses related to the birth, adoption, foster, and other fertility treatments, and c) establishing dedicated family-friendly study spaces on campus.
- We proposed a contract length of 3 years considering the constantly shifting current environment. We believe this will give both NYU and GSOC the ability to be more sensitive to the conditions of graduate workers and to come to an agreement to benefit the entire university community.
- We changed the language around vacation days to reflect semester-long appointments. Under the modified proposal, a graduate employee who works a semester-long appointment will be entitled to a one week’s paid vacation.
We concluded by again reiterating that in order for bargaining to be a meaningful process, NYU must respond concretely to our demands. If they continue to halt negotiations, it could force GSOC to pursue striking as the only means left to secure gains in graduate student workplace conditions.
Our next meeting is on September 14th from 1-4pm EST. We want to thank rank and file members who have attended bargaining sessions as observers thus far and encourage you to keep the pressure on!