What is GSOC-UAW Local 2110?
GSOC-UAW Local 2110 is the union that graduate employees at NYU have chosen to represent them in negotiations over terms and conditions of their employment since 1998. From 2002 to 2005, GSOCers were the first private university graduate employees to have concluded a union contract with their employer. That contract increased graduate stipends by an average of 38%, secured fully paid health insurance premiums for the first time, and made NYU competitive with universities like Harvard, Yale, and M.I.T. for attracting top talent to its graduate programs.After 2005, under President John Sexton, NYU chose to stop negotiating with GSOC after a decision by the George W. Bush-appointed National Labor Relations Board gave them that option, but GSOCers continued to organize for 8 years, eventually winning recognition from NYU through a private agreement and 98.4% “Union Yes” vote in a December 2013 election.
Graduate students who work for me have told me that they might have to go on strike. Why?
Our Bargaining Committee has set a strike deadline of March 9, 2015, meaning that if NYU does not settle a fair contract with us by that date, we will go on strike. After more than a year of negotiations between GSOC and NYU, the university still has made no serious compromises on the issues of fair wages, affordable access to health and family benefits, and acknowledging our stipends as terms and conditions of employment subject to collective bargaining. NYU has told our Bargaining Committee that they believe that we have asked for too much and must “prioritize” our demands in order to help the university reach an agreement. We contend that all of our demands are reasonable and that the university can easily afford to pay reasonable wages and benefits to those who make NYU work.
I depend on the graduate students who lead recitation sections and do grading for a big lecture course I teach. Graduate students also work in my lab or office. Their absence would really impact my work and that of other faculty members. What should I do?
We understand the inconvenience you are facing a result of this. But graduate student workers need the support of faculty members like you if this effort is going to succeed. The three key ways that you can contribute are 1) Acknowledge that it’s NYU’s failure to bargain fairly with GSOC that is the cause of a strike, and that GSOCers have done everything in their power to avoid it; 2) Let undergraduate students, other faculty, or staff who approach you about inconveniences related to the strike know that this is the fault of the NYU administration; and 3) Write to NYU President John Sexton (firstname.lastname@example.org) to tell him to settle a fair contract with GSOC immediately.
I think that GSOC is doing something important that will have a positive long-term impact on higher education. What can I do to help?
Faculty have contributed a lot to GSOC over our campaign’s many years, most recently with a public neutrality statement to which faculty from 25 different departments added their names. At this sensitive time, supportive faculty like you can help most by encouraging other faculty members to remain neutral—respect your graduate employee’s choice whether or not you agree with it yourself. Even if you believe firmly in our actions and the importance that all GSOCers respect it, refrain from encouraging your graduate employees to go on strike, since your position of authority over them may put them in an awkward position even if you intend to be supportive.