See below for answers to questions that may be of interest to graduate workers. Email us if you have questions that aren’t answered below!
Eligibility & Why You Should Join
What is GSOC-UAW Local 2110?
GSOC-UAW Local 2110 is the union representing graduate employees at NYU in negotiations over the 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.
Am I eligible to join the union?
Graduate NYU workers recognized as part of the bargaining unit by New York University are covered by the contract and eligible to join the union:
- Graduate students (Master’s/Ph.D.) who teach classes or have appointed teaching assistantships or laboratory assistantships (except Ph.D. student adjuncts beyond the 7th year and MBA candidates at Stern)
- Research assistants (with exceptions at Poly and GSAS STEM departments)
- Graduate & course assistants (with the exception at the School of Medicine)
- Graduate student workers in a range of miscellaneous positions, who are employed by NYU
To learn about the exceptions, click here.
Even if you are not working/holding a position covered by our contract, you may still join GSOC as an associate member if you are an NYU graduate student. Click the link for more information!
I’m not working/holding a position covered by your contract. Can I still join GSOC?
If you are an NYU graduate student, you can join us as an associate member even if you have not worked a union job so far.
Associate members are not Local 2110 members but have all GSOC-level membership rights, including participating in GSOC membership meetings, joining most committees and working groups, forming caucuses, voting on internal referenda, voting for and serving as stewards (except that you cannot represent members in grievances), and participating in the bargaining survey. Associate Members cannot vote in contract ratification, represent members in collective bargaining, or vote in bargaining committee elections.
Click here to learn about associate membership rights & enrollment!
I’m an international student worker. Can I join the union if I’m here on a student visa?
Every international graduate student, regardless of national origin or type of visa, has the right to join a union. Your right to belong to a union is protected by the right to freedom of association guaranteed in the United States Constitution. The visa requirement that foreign students may only accept employment associated with the university they attend in no way compromises the right to belong to a union.
Graduate employees have formed unions and bargained contracts at many schools, and graduate employee unions have existed for almost 40 years. None of the campuses with unions have reported any complications arising from the dual status of being both a foreign student and a unionized employee. It is against the law for your employer (the University) to discriminate against you on the basis of your union membership or participation in legal union activities.
That discrimination exists against international students, however, is clear. This is another reason why international students should join a union and help fight for more protection. Only with a union, independent of the University administration, can you be assured that if you are subject to discrimination by the administration there is a group that will stand behind you and will help to defend you.
Check out more FAQs for international students specifically.
Do I “unlock” extra benefits if I join the union?
No. GSOC is an “agency shop.” That means that all graduate workers in unionized positions are entitled to the benefits negotiated by the union, and GSOC represents everyone covered by the contract, regardless of their union membership status.
In a word, there are no extra material benefits for members, such as higher hourly rates or higher health insurance coverage. However, members can vote on union matters and participate in union activities, while non-members cannot. Read our bylaws to learn about all the membership rights.
If I join, do I pay more money to the union than those who don’t join?
No. Since GSOC is an “agency shop,” all workers, regardless of their membership status, are required to contribute to the union’s costs. When you work in a union position, 2% of your total compensation is deducted directly from your paycheck and will go towards building a stronger union.
For union members, we call the 2% deduction “dues,” while for non-members, we call the 2% deduction “agency fees.” These are the same amount, just different names. These worker contributions support organizing campaigns, fund arbitrations, and ensure our rights and benefits will be protected.
To conclude, there are no extra financial contributions from members, as dues and agency fees are the same amount. However, due-payers (members) can vote on union matters and participate in union activities, while agency fee–payers (non-members) cannot.
Why should I join the union by signing a union card?
1) It is mandatory for workers to sign the cards. All current workers must sign and return a union card as a mandatory condition of their employment, as outlined in your appointment letter. If you want to sign up as an active union member, fill out all portions of the card. If you only want to send in your card as a non-member, aka an agency fee-payer, write your name and N# on the top portion of the card, and sign the bottom two (identical) portions of the card.
2) As dues and agency fees are the exact same amount, we ask you to join as an active member! As a union member, you gain the right to vote in union matters. Becoming a member will also make you eligible to vote in union elections and issue ballots, shaping the priorities of our union. Read our bylaws to learn about all the membership rights.
3) We are the union together, and we are only as strong as our member ranks. More members enable us to better advocate for graduate workers’ interests and workplace rights! By filling out your entire union card and joining GSOC, you also build a strong labor movement.
Can I choose not to be a member of the union?
If you are appointed to one of the positions included in our contract, you are covered by the contract automatically. You cannot opt out. You could choose not to join as a member, but you MUST still fill out the card to pay an agency fee (equivalent to dues) as a condition of continued employment. Click here for instructions on signing the card as an agency fee-payer.
As dues and agency fees are the exact same amount, we ask you to join as an active member! As a union member, you gain the right to vote in union matters, and by filling out your entire union card and joining GSOC, you also build a strong labor movement.
Joining & Union Card
How do I join the union by signing a card?
There are currently three ways to get a card to sign and become a union member:
- A union membership card should also be included in your letter of appointment (for all eligible graduate employee positions). Contact us if that is not the case!
- You can also download a card directly from Local 2110’s website and email it to Local2110@2110uaw.org.
- Union stewards and staff will circulate cards in all departments.
Once you have initially signed and submitted a union card, it will be kept on file for any subsequent union positions you work. You do not need to resubmit your card.
What is a union card? Do I need a physical copy?
A union card is simply a form that certifies your membership in the union and authorizes dues deduction. It is NOT an ID card and you do not have to print out a physical copy, unless you’d like to print and scan a card for the initial submission.
Once you email the card to Local2110@2110uaw.org, you are all set! You will not receive a physical/electronic card from the union.
I submitted the card but did not receive a confirmation—is this a problem?
No. Once you submit your card, you are all set! Our parent union, Local 2110, receives and processes a large volume of union cards from 30+ workplaces, and may not confirm receipt of your card. This will not affect your membership rights. Read our bylaws to learn about all the membership rights!
Meanwhile, we are trying to set up a system to track and respond to card submissions. If you are interested in helping, contact the Welcome Working Group!
Do I need to submit a new card each semester?
No. Once you have initially signed and submitted a union card, it will be kept on file for any subsequent union positions you work. You do not need to resubmit your card.
Dues & Agency Fees
What are “dues”? How much are the dues?
Dues are 2% of a member’s total compensation to contribute to the union’s costs. They are only deducted during the semesters in which you are employed in a union position. Dues are deducted from every paycheck. This includes your wages from your union work and your NYU funding package. In addition to the dues, there is an initiation fee of up to $50 (it may be less, depending on your pay grade) when you first join the union.
Membership in the union helps you save money in the long run! Pay raises in our union contract stipulate at least a 2.25% increase in total compensation per year, and many employees covered by the contract will also have fees waived–and 95% of their health insurance costs paid. No one will end up with less money in their pocket because of the contract!
What are “agency fees”? How much are agency fees?
Agency fees are 2% of a non-member’s total compensation to contribute to the union’s costs. They are deducted during the semesters in which you are employed in a union position, even if you decide not to join the union.
Dues and agency fees are the same amount, just different names. Therefore, we ask you to join the union as an active member! As a union member, you gain the right to vote in union matters, and by filling out your entire union card and joining GSOC, you also build a strong labor movement.
What are our dues used for?
Your union dues support our:
- Operational costs: Dues are the Union’s sole source of revenue and pay for all operational costs including staff, legal costs, rent, equipment, etc.
- Costs of organizing new workplaces: Our ten-year campaign (2005–2015) to regain union rights cost a lot of money (around $6 million), and was funded by dues income from other UAW members. Our dues will go on to contribute to organizing other university workers and winning their labor rights.
- Funds to support workers on strike: A portion of dues also goes to the UAW Strike & Defense Fund, which covers all UAW members in case they must during strike during contract negotiations.
I do not work this semester. Do I still need to pay dues?
No. Dues are only paid/deducted in the semesters you are working in a union position, even if you sign a card during a semester you are not working. Dues are deducted from your paycheck on applicable semesters, if you have signed a card.
If you have not signed a card yet, you must pay the Agency Fee (equivalent to the cost of dues) no later than 31 days after you start working. Agency fee-payers do not get voting rights in the union, although it will continue to represent them. Either way, you’ve got to pay, so why not sign a card?
Contract & Benefits
What are some highlights of GSOC’s current contract?
When and how do I receive the health insurance reimbursement?
Graduate employees covered by our contract are able to buy the NYU Comprehensive or Basic Student Health Insurance Plans with a 95% discount on the applicable premium (enrollment) cost.
You will receive an automatic reimbursement on your bursar account when NYU finalizes the list of employees—typically by mid-October for Fall semesters and by March for Spring semesters. If you don’t receive your reimbursement after the due date, the union will distribute a Missing Benefits Form each semester for you to report the issue.
To avoid issues with NYU missing your reimbursement, the union recommends that workers don’t pay the full amount for their premiums when they work a union job, but rather only pay the 5% they are responsible for. This ensures that workers don’t have to worry about waiting for the reimbursement. If doing so causes issues with registration or leads to a hold on their account, a worker should email the registrar with a copy of their appointment letter and copy firstname.lastname@example.org to clear the hold.
When do I receive the Service Bonus/Vacation Payout?
Graduate employees who hold a semester-based position will receive a service bonus, which is 7% of the total amount earned by the graduate employee in the semester just completed and will be paid after the completion of the semester, in lieu of vacation.
Hourly graduate employees whose appointments are not semester-based will accrue one (1) vacation day for every four (4) consecutive weeks worked. Any accrued vacation days not used shall be paid after the appointment end date. A “vacation day” equals 5% of the hours worked in each four (4) week period.
A rough timeline to expect your service bonus/vacation payout is as follows. For accurate dates each semester, subscribe to GSOC calendar.
- Fall appointments: mid-February
- Spring appointments: early July
- Summer appointments: mid-October
If you don’t receive the payment after the due dates, contact us!
What do I do if I have a workplace problem or issue with my benefits?
Our contract provides a mechanism for addressing these workplace issues: the grievance procedure. If you think you might have something to grieve, contact a union steward immediately. Our contract requires grievances to be filed within 15 business days of the offense.
First steps: You can take the first step of an individual grievance—talking with the appropriate faculty member or administrator—on your own, but it’s best to discuss first with a union representative and ask them to come with you (as is your legal right). If it’s a wider problem that affects more than just you, a steward may recommend you join a group grievance to get the best outcome.
Learn more: You can read more about grievance procedure in Article XX of our contract. Keep in mind that 1) union representatives will aim to get you the best possible settlement for you at every step of the procedure; and 2) how far that procedure goes, from initial departmental conversations to formal arbitration, is a strategic decision that takes into consideration your input as a grievant alongside the strength of your case and the resources of the union.
Contact Us & Get Involved
How can I get more involved in the union?
Feel free to stop by one of our Monthly Members’ Meetings (typically the 3rd Tuesday of the month), email the Organizing Committee, fill out the organizing form, or contact one of the stewards to hear about getting involved. Start by following us on Instagram and Twitter, and signing up for our mailing list! We are the union, together!
Who can I contact if I have more questions?
Contact a steward, one of our committees, or the graduate student representatives! We’re here to help.