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NYU Grad Employees Declare Work Stoppage

April 27, 2021

New York University’s graduate employee union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, went on strike Monday over stalled negotiations for a new contract. Ninety-six percent of voting union members approved the strike ahead of time, with leaders accusing the university of “stalling” during the past 10 months of bargaining. The union’s demands include a living wage for one of the country’s most expensive cities, affordable health care with limited out-of-pocket costs, more support for families, redress for discrimination and harassment, paid vacation and leave for all, help for members to secure housing and access to transportation, and other improvements to working conditions. Grad workers also want low-cost legal and tax help for international students, and no campus access for federal agents. They're seeking a police-free campus, as well.

John Beckman, university spokesperson, said the administration believes the strike is “unwarranted, untimely and regrettable, and we believe it could have been avoided if the union had not been intransigent about bringing in a mediator to aid the negotiation process.” The university will focus on helping students and sustaining the research mission with as little disruption as possible during the strike, he added.

Beckman said that NYU already pays its graduate employees a minimum of $20 per hour and has proposed increasing that pay by 20 percent, including by 5 percent during the first year of the new contract. NYU has also proposed a new $200,000 graduate employee health insurance support fund for out-of-pocket medical costs, doubling the childcare subsidy fund, a service bonus for grad employees with semester-long appointments and six weeks of paid parental leave.

Columbia University’s graduate employee union, which is also affiliated with UAW, was recently on strike for a month over negotiations for a first union contract. NYU’s graduate employee union almost went on strike over a first contract in 2015 but was able to reach an agreement with the university with the help of a mediator just prior to the deadline.

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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