NYU Graduate Student Strike Continues: Bernie and Bargaining on Day Five | by El Yurman

Friday’s protests came after an intense 10-hour high-profile bargaining session the day before, a fact that was not lost on union members on the picket line. Marwan Shalaby, a doctoral student in engineering and a member of the GSOC negotiating committee, expressed to the local his frustration with the university’s lack of movement during Thursday’s negotiations.

“We spent over three hours chatting among ourselves to figure out how to respond to all of NYU’s proposals,” Shalaby said. They said the union had shaken things up on a number of issues, narrowing its list of demands to those they felt were absolutely necessary to end the strike. “Then the mediator brought our new list over to the NYU side,” Shalaby said, “and they talked for a very long time – they made us wait until 11pm. And then when the mediator finally returned, he told us that they had not responded to our proposal and I wanted more time.

Shalaby said they hoped NYU would respond to all of the union’s proposals, but especially those related to a pay increase, as the university had not responded to those proposals since August.

They said one of the main sources of the dispute had been disagreement over demands that were “mandatory subjects of negotiation” – a long-standing dispute between NYU and the union.

The term “compulsory negotiating subjects”Refers to the conditions defined by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which states that an employer must bargain collectively with the union on matters relating to “wages, hours and other conditions of employment”.

This has become controversial in the GSOC negotiations. NYU, like many private universities, argued that the primary obligation of graduate students is their studies, not their work. According to this logic, many of the GSOC’s requests would not be considered mandatory. (The NLRA makes it possible to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a negotiating topic is “mandatory” or “permissible”.)

Shalaby said the GSOC felt NYU never clearly defined which proposals they considered mandatory or permissive, leaving the negotiating committee to guess at the university’s intentions when scaling back their proposals.

“It’s frustrating, because we believe that all we are asking for are already mandatory negotiating topics that affect union workers,” they said.

The second half of the day was filled with more speeches from various union members, NYU faculty and alumni, and other union organizers. Elisabeth Fay, lecture writing professor and NYU member contingent faculty, spoke of the need for solidarity and unity between professors and students and across the campus.

“I always need the strength of an organized union,” Fay said. “NYU has still not recognized the try to unionizedespite 50% of us across campus signing cards. This makes it more difficult for the GSOC [to] strike, and contributes to the erosion of tenure. “

Fay said that even tenured professors are not immune to the need for a union, as the number of non-permanent positions, such as auxiliaries and other non-contingent professors, grew up tremendously over the past 20 years.

“They need our work and have become too comfortable offloading our work onto unprotected auxiliaries and hardworking students. We are done competing for artificially scarce resources, ”she said. “The work you do today is as important and productive as the work you do in the classroom. None of us are protected until all of us are.

Elisabeth Fay addresses the crowd. Photo by the author.

Tracy Rosenthal, member of LA Tenants Union, discussed NYU’s ties to gentrification and the NYPD. “For decades, NYU has marketed the city as a playground for four-year-old tourists, prioritizing increasing neighborhood property values ​​over the needs of the existing community,” she said.

“They say they don’t work with the police, but it would be impossible without the support of the NYPD – cops decide what can happen in public based on racist scripts and biased interpretations of who, whose opinions life has value. We need their resources to house people with dignity, and we need their authority to decide for ourselves what our public spaces are for. “

As she spoke, two other strikers hung a large “Abolish NYPD!” sign between two trees behind her. “Every building in NYU should be considered hostile architecture until every person in the city has a home,” Rosenthal said.

Tracy Rosenthal speaks to strikers. Photo by the author.

The strike began to end around 2:00 p.m., just in time for the bargaining committee to resume negotiations with NYU and the mediator. They left the meeting five hours later with more positive news than the day before.

“The strike is working,” committee member Virgilio Urbina Lazardi said in an email from GSOC to the local. “NYU put more money on the table today – not enough, but more.”

“However,” he said, “they have not budged from their insulting $ 1 increases, and we intend to step up the pressure on it next week.”

In the same email, fourth-year doctoral student Tova Benjamin said Friday’s picket line was the largest crowd they had ever had. “If NYU thinks the picket line is over, it is clear today that we are only getting stronger.”

The GSOC signed his email: “The strike continues. “

The GSOC will begin its second week of strike action on Monday, May 3, with its next negotiation session with the university scheduled for 1 p.m. on the same day. Like the first week, pickets in person must take place outside the Bobst Library daily from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and virtual stakes are programmed at the same times on Zoom and Topia. The local will continue to cover the strike and all related proceedings as negotiations continue.

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