This week saw yet another fraught bargaining session with NYU, where even after a substantial number of counter proposals brought to the table by GSOC, NYU still maintained their rigid bargaining position, rejecting many, the majority even, of our proposals outright.
The session this week was focused on the issue of Equity and Inclusion (E&I), a central pillar in GSOC’s contract demands and GSOC’s role as an advocate for graduate workers on campus. The current proposal on E&I can be found here, and a useful helper document on the topic is here. Several graduate workers illustrated our position by presenting a series of powerful testimonials, attesting to the power structures the university protects that leave grad students easily exploitable, and the failures of the current structures to protect graduate workers from potential abuse by their advisors and redress cases of abuse that do happen. Several Comparative Literature students described a culture of abuse in that department, centered around Professor Avital Ronell, who has been sheltered from consequences for her abusive behavior by both the university and her colleagues. In light of these testimonials, GSOC argued that the existing contract, while offering some procedures for harassment grievances, clearly does not go far enough in protecting graduate workers from various kinds of abuse and harassment. NYU stated vaguely that they would respond to the E&I proposals after spending more time on it.
The university’s bargaining team offered to go through every proposal the union had made, and GSOC took them up on it. NYU proceeded to reject nearly all of GSOC’s demands for both impact and regular bargaining. Instead they reiterated their weak counterproposals which they offered a few weeks ago, and made no new counteroffers.
The session ended with GSOC condemning NYU’s refusal to substantively engage with most of our proposals and counterproposals, and insisting on the urgency of the proposals concerning international students. It is becoming increasingly clear that NYU will not budge unless serious leverage is applied.