Dear Fellow Members,
On Thursday, our bargaining committee (with ~100 observers!) met with NYU for a marathon 10-hour bargaining session. NYU made several new proposals, and we know that’s only because they’re scared of our strike. But their new proposals were not enough. While we made significant moves and presented a contract framework that would provide a fair settlement, NYU showed no movement on many of the issues most important to us, such as tuition waivers, wages, and provisions against the university cutting jobs.
NYU then refused to meet over the weekend to continue bargaining, meaning we will not be able to settle a contract before our strike deadline on Monday. The strike begins Monday, April 26th at 12:00 AM. In case you missed the urgent member’s meeting last night, there will be another one tomorrow (Sunday) at 5pm.
- Since bargaining began, GSOC has made substantial movements regarding compensation––from $45K for Research Assistants down to $38K as well as making the same change to for total compensation. In hourly wages, we moved during this bargaining session from $38/hr to $32/hr effective in the first year of contract, with 3.5% increases each subsequent year (our original proposal was 46/hour, which we’ve continually adjusted). But NYU STILL refuses to move up from their proposed $21/hr, with a 3% yearly increase.
- GSOC also moved from demanding 100% tuition remission to 40%, which NYU still rejected, and in fact asked us to withdraw entirely.
- GSOC proposed a subsidy of $9,000 annually per child for children under 6 years old and $3000 for children 6-12. This is a step down of several thousand dollars. NYU continues to put forward a subsidy fund model that would only provide approximately $3,000 for children under 6.
- GSOC offered to meet NYU at six weeks of paid leave within the first 12 months after childbirth, adoption, fostering, or legal custody, as long as NYU agreed to decrease the eligibility requirement. NYU’s current proposal says you need to work two semesters to be eligible for family leave. We countered with one semester.
- NYU refused to accept this unless we dropped key proposals on childcare, tuition remission, and unit erosion.
Premiums (Enrollment Costs)
- We are demanding 100% coverage health care premiums (premium = the amount paid enroll in the health insurance plan)
- NYU wants to maintain the same 90% discount we already have in our current contract, but extend it from just covering the basic plan to covering the comprehensive plan, too.
- We have proposed a Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangement to cover out of pocket costs for grad employees. Basically, a pool of money you can get reimbursed from for co-pays, co-insurance, prescriptions costs, etc. We proposed that each worker have a $1,500 pool per semesterly appointment, or $4,500 per year pro-rated to the length of the appointment for non-semester appointments.
- NYU, finally acknowledging our need for assistance with exorbitant out-of-pocket costs, proposed a $200,000 fund to reimburse out-of-pocket costs for all grad workers. That’s simply not enough money to meaningfully help all of us.
- We proposed a health care fund to cover up to 100% of the premium costs for the dependents of all grad workers. The fund would start from $350K in the first year and increase up to $400K by 2023. NYU is offering to cover just 75% of premium costs for dependents of grad workers. They expanded the eligibility from our previous contract to include the dependents of non-doctoral workers, but kept the fund at the same $200K amount. So they increased eligibility, but kept the fund the same size. We’re not sure why they think that would work.
- We also proposed increased support for grad students who are, or wish to become, parents. The 2020 New York state mandate requires employers to offer comprehensive fertility treatment: while Wellfleet brochures say fertility is not available to graduate students, it has come to our attention that NYU has covered fertility with multiple clinics. It’s disturbing to us that NYU has covered this with opacity, and it has been updated to reflect the current state of coverage.
International and Immigrant Workers
- At the start of bargaining in June 2020, we proposed specific protections and financial support for international and immigrant workers, including protections from ICE, CBP and other federal agents as well as legal and tax assistance to help with international workers’ complicated immigration status in the US. For the first time, NYU provided a proposal that would provide grad workers the option to enroll in a legal assistance plan currently offered to other employees. However, NYU continues to refuse to provide international and immigrant students with essential civic protections and tax assistance.
Health and Safety (Protection from Law Enforcement)
- For the first time, NYU acknowledged the presence of law enforcement on campus as a health and safety issue, proposing a side letter which states:
- “As a result of discussions and issues raised during negotiations, the Union and the University agree to convene the health and safety committee in Article XIII.B. within six (6) months of ratification of the agreement to discuss matters relating to health and safety in the workplace, specifically graduate employees’ concerns regarding the presence of law enforcement (NYPD) and graduate employee workplace safety. The committee shall meet at least three (3) times on this subject.”
- This recognition is unprecedented and significant. The bargaining committee accepted this proposal, and GSOC’s Health and Safety Article Committee is determining our best path forward with our previously submitted proposals on health and safety in consultation with GSOC’s bargaining committee and UAW legal representation. This statement from NYU opens an important door for us to continue fighting for a police-free campus.
And after 9 hours of negotiations, we presented NYU with a package proposal which would have resolved three issues where we were close to agreement with NYU: holidays and vacations, bargaining unit information, and paid parental leave. The university refused to accept unless we dropped key proposals on childcare, tuition remission, and unit erosion: an extremely unbalanced, and cynical counter that shows how little NYU cares about the issues most important to us.
The university declined to meet for bargaining sessions over the weekend, despite our repeated suggestions.
Our next bargaining session will be Monday 26th April at 3 pm: RSVP for it here.