Over 2,200 graduate workers are set to go on strike at NYU
- 1,336 voted YES to authorize a strike, bargaining committee authorized to call strike
- GSOC calls STRIKE ON NYU April 26 and demands action at the bargaining table
- NYU maintains stonewalling tactics and “significant” $1 raises for workers
New York, NY: The graduate student workers of New York University (GSOC) have overwhelmingly voted YES to authorize a strike at NYU. Out of the 1,386 graduate workers who voted, 96.4% voted overwhelmingly in favor of striking. The strike is set to begin Monday, April 26. After nine months of NYU stonewalling negotiations, GSOC delivered a petition urging the University to bargain or face a strike last month. At the first bargaining session following the start of the strike vote, NYU refused to make further movements on key issues like wages, healthcare, international and immigrant worker issues, and health and safety concerns.
“The overwhelming yes vote to authorize a strike is a testament to the frustration graduate workers have with the university’s refusal to settle a fair contract,” says Ellis Garey, a Teaching Assistant and GSOC organizer. “Our union represents over 2,200 graduate workers, many of whom have been unable to make ends meet due to low wages and NYU’s decision to place the burden of the pandemic on us. We know that the university cannot run without our labor. If NYU insists on denying graduate workers a living wage, affordable healthcare, and better protections in the workplace, we are prepared to strike until we win them.”
“NYU’s stonewalling effort is a combination of refusing to discuss critical proposals and intentionally slowing down the process of negotiations in their favor,” says Arundhati Velamur, a GSOC Bargaining Committee member. “In our last bargaining session on April 6, they brought just one single proposal to the table after specifically delaying meeting with our Bargaining Committee for three weeks, having said the time was required so they could respond to multiple proposals. NYU Spokesperson John Beckman’s claim that it is the union that has been responsible for slow negotiations is patently false.”
NYU’s claims that mediation is required to move forward is a distraction. “Mediation typically requires closed bargaining, which would not allow our graduate workers to attend bargaining sessions,” said Anila Gill, a GSOC Bargaining Committee member. “Bargaining should be transparent and democratically led by the grad student workers of NYU, and we oppose adding any extra bureaucratic hurdles that might inhibit that process. In addition, we have no reason to think that a mediator would be productive at this stage, in which NYU is entirely responsible for stalling negotiations. We see it as an attempt by NYU to legitimize themselves in a process they have made illegitimate by refusing to meaningfully engage.”
NYU’s current positions are inadequate:
- NYU continues to offer only $1 increases on hourly pay, which means a maximum of $20 more a week as we cannot work more than 20 hrs/wk. Workers deserve a living wage for NYC and NYU can afford it. Currently, GSOC workers’ combined wages make up only 1.2% of NYU’s $3.7 billion budget for 2021.
- NYU refuses to bargain over GSOC’s health and safety proposals, including the proposal to keep cops off campus and out of NYU buildings.
- NYU’s graduate student population is 40% international, yet NYU has not offered a single counter proposal on international and immigrant student worker issues like funds for tax and legal assistance.
GSOC’s proposals emerged from months of membership phone banking, surveys, and town halls. All union members are able to participate in shaping proposals and rallying support.
“Considering that undergrads pay the incredibly expensive tuition at NYU, it’s unacceptable to us that our grad workers, including our TAs, are not paid a living wage,” said Karishma Chari, an undergraduate activist in the Young Democratic Socialists of America. “We support our TAs to go on strike because their working conditions are our learning conditions. We are fed up with NYU’s slow progress in bargaining and 474 undergrads have signed a pledge in solidarity with graduate workers.”
GSOC members last voted to authorize a strike in 2014, when more than 1,100 grad workers voted 95% in favor. This action pressured NYU at the negotiating table to meet GSOC demands on the eve of the strike deadline. The resulting contract raised the minimum wage of hourly workers by 100% from $10 to $20 by the end of the contract, provided healthcare and dental coverage to all graduate workers, created a childcare subsidy fund, and established a grievance and arbitration procedure to settle contract violations, including cases of discrimination.
In person and on social media, GSOC has received support from the NYC Tech Workers Coalition, The New Yorker Union, Alphabet Workers Union at Google, Contract Faculty United at NYU, and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) at NYU.
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About GSOC-UAW 2110: In 2001, the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), part of United Auto Workers Local 2110, became the first recognized union of graduate employees at a private university in the United States. We are a member-run union of over 2,000 NYU teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, research assistants, and hourly workers. Our last collective bargaining agreement was signed March 9, 2015, on the deadline for a worker strike.
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