Wednesday, November 09, 2005

NYU Grad Students Strike

Here's an amateur photo album of the NYU grad students ON STRIKE TODAY. They had the only grad student union at a private college until their contract expired August 31. In my interpretation, a 2004 decision against students at Brown emboldened the university to ask for a lot of concessions in the new contract, prompting this strike.

Is a union the best solution for graduate student teachers and adjuncts? I confess I'm torn on the issue. I think they deserve better pay and working conditions, but what everyone really wants is to go back to the apprenticeship system with tenure jobs for everybody at the other end, and that's just not going to happen.


Amanda said...

In response to your statement "they deserve better pay and working conditions," didn't these students choose to attend NYU? If the pay and working conditions at the university were intollerable or substandard, no one would attend grad school there and the university would have to adjust in order to be competitive with other schools. That's not the case here. I wish more people who are torn on this issue would consider what's brought to light here:

Anya said...

Just because pay and working conditions prevail throughout a market (and no-one's saying that NYU's offerings are not competitive) does not mean they are acceptable, or that workers don't have the right to ask for something better.
I absolutely support the grad students' right to organize. I just wonder if the union fight is ultimately the best solution to the situation they find themselves in.

Amanda said...

You are absolutely correct; the GAs do have a right to organize.

The University offered a reasonable solution in August where GAs would have union representation on economic issues, while issues relating to education would be left up to the University. This is understandable after the University acted in good faith with the establishment of the previous contract, then got burned a few times when the union overstepped its bounds.

This is situation cannot be handled in the traditional employee/employer fashion as is being demanded. After all, the GAs are students first, employees second.

Anonymous said...

dear amanda - as a gsoc member, i want to clarify that nyu's summer "offer" was far from reasonable, and would have eviscerated our rights and our ability to have a say in our working conditions. all grievances would have been finally decided by the provost. we would not have had a say over economic conditions, we would only have been forced to accept what nyu offered, (benefits that were notably not as good as in our first historic contract) without any real face to face negotiations. this was in fact a take it or leave it offer. the university certainly did NOT act in good faith, as you suggest. and additionally, the only reason the benefits and pay for grad assistantships are so competitive now is because of the union. when i was a GA pre-contract, i made 10K/year, no healthcare waiver, no fee coverage. so my takehome pay after taxes no less, was close to 7K. it is now 19K (up from last year's contract minimum of 18k) due to the presence of a union and the security of a contract. nyu would not have provided this out of the kindness of their hearts.

for our take on the spin and the reality of the situation, follow the link here:

-proud gsoc member, nyu phd student