Sunday, November 13, 2005

Whoa, Whoa, WHOA! re: Grievances

We've been deluged with written materials since the prospect of a strike reared its head: letters flying back and forth between administrators, parents, faculty, GAs, and undergrads; editorials and media coverage; terms of the contract; etc., etc., ad nauseam. It's enough to make one's eyes go blurry!

However, I finally got around to reading the details of the grievances that NYU claims interfere with "academic decision-making," and are thus grounds for terminating its relations with the union. Two glaring facts often lost amongst all the documentation are:

1) NYU claims that the union "repeatedly failed to keep its promise" to stay out of "academic matters." And yet, NYU can only produce two (two!) grievances that speak to this issue.

2) The union never intended to interfere in the university's decision regarding who should fill teaching assistant positions (let along what they should teach); they merely advocated that such employees should be paid the same as unionized TAs as per our contract with NYU.

Equal pay for equal work--who knew it was such a radical concept? In other words, the union was advocating on behalf of exploited adjuncts as much as it was advocating in favor of its members. Since TAs unionized and secured for themselves fair compensation, the university has tried to get around this by exploiting non-union labor to fill the exact same positions its TAs hold. They do this by paying adjuncts half of what TAs make, and without health benefits. This is the university's way of undermining the GA union contract while simultaneously screwing its adjuncts (i.e., our internal labor source is too "expensive," so we'll hire outside laborers to do the job at half the price).

To clarify: this is NOT an issue of academic decision-making! Such a claim is a thinly veiled attempt to hide what is, at its core, a labor issue. The university wants to reclassify unionized TA positions as adjunct positions, thus allowing them to pay half the salary and no health benefits. In the long run, this action will significantly decrease the size of the union's bargaining unit, thus rendering the union less powerful (read: this is another one of NYU's union-busting techniques).

The grievances in question that were filed by the union are not only its attempt to advocate for its members, but to advocate for all labor on campus. Why? Because labor's power is, by nature, collective power. When NYU exploits adjunct labor, it exploits its unionized TA labor force. This is why the union says to NYU, "Hire whoever you want from wherever you want and let them teach whatever you want, but as long as these individuals do the same work as TAs, you must pay them at least contractually negotiated union wages." To reiterate, equal pay for equal work does not constitute interfering in "academic decision-making."

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly....but just as viewers of FOX News are 7 times more likely to believe that WMD have been found in Iraq....so are parents and students who get bombarded with this crap on a weekly basis.
And the Administration has a great spokesperson and it does a great job: Beckman and Co. have managed to sow a seed of doubt in the minds of many regarding BlackboardGate: relying on the assumption that no one who knows how blackboard works, and I mean no one....would be that stupid....I love this story from 2000, where Beckman is quoted uttering non-sense numerous times: http://www.pub.umich.edu/daily/2000/nov/11-02-2000/news/15.html.
Here is one of his comments: "It erodes a relationship between faculty and students," he said of the NLRB decision. "From grading to who should graduate to the curriculum that might be taught, they could all become subjects of collective bargaining."

Just utter-fucking-crap. Where does one learn to circumvent the truth like that?: http://www.nyu.edu/public.affairs/leadership/beckman.html

11/13/2005 2:14 PM  

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