Monday, November 14, 2005

Someone is feeling the heat

Our own little tyrant here at NYU was compelled to issue yet another edict from his perch atop Bobst. Someone clearly feels he needs to try to clean up some of the messes he and his University Leadership cronies have been making recently. Read Sexton's letter. Some thoughts of my own:

As for BlackboardGate, the Administration is persistent in neglecting to mention that it also added two Deans to each Blackboard in question, not just DUGS. (See the Faculty Democracy letter on electronic surveillance for the details.) What that had to do with "continuity of instruction" remains unclear. Was this a mistake as well? Seems hard to accidentally add two Deans to all of these Blackboards. Curiously, the Administration isn't even mentioning it...

Some rehash of old arguments: They're still harping on this interference with academic integrity line; equal pay for equal work is not "interfering with academic decision making" people. We've talked about this here and here. Then there's the "loose your stipend if you don't join the union" line. Our contract was for an agency shop, not a closed union shop where you have to join the union. If you didn't want to join the union, you don't have to, but you have to pay a $50 "agency fee" since everyone benefits from the union's negotiations and people really shouldn't be able to freeload. See Prof. Sokal's letter, part 5, for more on this.

Now here's the new stuff: There were Secret Negotiations! You can read the actual back and forth between the two parties in the offical negotiations for yourself (see the "Negotiations" section). They're short and, frankly, sound a lot more like the union's "48-hour take it or leave it" interpretation than the Administration's "open discussion" take, but decide for yourself. Now Sexton says there were secret negotiations too... and the University was much more open and conciliatory in these secret negotiations. Okay, sure. Until someone produces some evidence stronger than Sexton's conjecture, let's reserve judgment.

New stuff part two: We've made a wrong turn, so obviously we can't turn back! Sexton is now saying that since there's been movement made on new university-centered grievance procedures for grad labor, we can't turn back now. No. The point of the strike is that grad labor wants access to an independent third party to mediate grievances when necessary, not the Provost. We voted (by an overwhelming majority, thank you) to be represented by a union, not an ad hoc committee culled from student government. Democracy much?

While we're talking about these new committees (GSWG and CGA), at the last GSC meeting I went to (GSC is officially neutral about the union by the way; working with the Administration on these new grievance procedures and thus undermining the union might suggest otherwise, but let them say they're neutral) the discussion of these new bodies was wedged between a report of Dean Stimpson's outrage over the condition of the upholstery in the grad lounge (this she gets outraged over) and training for the university games. Apparently, the grad students have a hold on competitive donut eating and GSC didn't want us to loose our edge (seriously). Donut eating saw more floor time than anything to do with either of those committees... by like a 4-to-1 margin. These are not the people I want going toe to toe with the Administration over my health care benefits, or university attempts to reclassify GAs as adjuncts. I'm sure some really great people have worked really hard to devise a procedure that firmly entrenches grad labor under the Provost's thumb. However, until there is access to independent arbitration over the substance of labor grievances with the university, no dice people.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nerds,

What are the undergrads doing to support you?

What's up with the stipends, did NYU stop paying them?

UAW strike benefits?

11/14/2005 4:57 PM  
Blogger specter of marx said...

Anon,

Undergrads have been terrific, especially GUS (Graduate Undergraduate Solidarity). Check out the NYU Inc. in our sidebar for more undergrad coverage of the strike, as well as the WSN, which has been unabashedly pro-GSOC. Students don stickers, armbands, and even walk with us on the picket lines. NYU undergrads ROCK!

11/14/2005 5:16 PM  
Anonymous John Pat Leary said...

You don't even want to get me started on the Graduate Student Council. For some reason, I get their lame emails, and the day after the strike vote--Nov. 1--they sent out a draft of an GSC charter that included proposals about the new committee that will "take over for the union" (I think that's a quote). The DAY AFTER the damn strike vote!

11/14/2005 11:44 PM  

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