Thursday, January 26, 2006

Amy's In the Chronicle

See the article.

New York U. Withholds Stipends and Denies Teaching Assignments to Some Striking TA's

By JOHN GRAVOIS

A handful of graduate teaching assistants who are on strike at New York University received letters on Tuesday in which the administration told them they will not be getting teaching assignments or stipends for the next two semesters.

The letters made good on an ultimatum issued last November by the university's president, John E. Sexton, to graduate students who did not show up for their teaching assignments in January.

So far, according to the graduate students' union, only three strikers have received letters. All three teach full courses on their own, rather than leading discussion sections in courses taught by professors.

Most teaching assistants at NYU lead only discussion sections. Many of those sections have yet to meet, as the spring semester began only last week.

Unionized graduate students at NYU have been on strike since early November in an effort to pressure the university into recognizing their union.

Amy LeClair, a sociology graduate student who received one of the notices, said an e-mail message on Monday evening informed her that a letter about her stipend would be mailed to her overnight. At that point, she said, she knew more or less what was coming.

"I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be getting a raise or getting nominated for a teaching award," she said. "I was fully anticipating having my pay docked this semester."

Ms. LeClair said it seemed strange to her that her time on the picket line this spring has doomed her teaching prospects next fall -- an equation that goes beyond simply losing pay while on strike.

"It's kind of punishing me for having withdrawn my labor by terminating future pay," she said.

John Beckman, the university's vice president for public affairs, said that the consequences of staying on strike had been clearly laid out in President Sexton's November letter to all graduate students, and that the university was acting out of concern for undergraduate education.

"Our priority remains the education of all our students, including our undergraduates," Mr. Beckman said. "The overwhelming majority of [graduate assistants] are fulfilling their teaching responsibilities to students."

Neither the union nor the university has a solid estimate of how many graduate students remain on strike, though both say the number is now probably well below half of the graduate population. According to Susan Valentine, a union spokeswoman, some students left the picket line when their stipends were threatened last November.

The university has said that it will help students who have had their stipends cut by offering them loans, in addition to the financial package under which they were admitted to NYU's graduate programs. "Even those who continue to strike will continue to get all of their tuition and will continue to get 100 percent of their health care paid for," said Mr. Beckman.

The United Auto Workers, which represents the graduate students, routinely pays $200 a week to striking workers who have had their pay cut. In addition, the local union, the Graduate Students Organizing Committee, has raised money for a hardship fund, which is meant to help unpaid strikers with emergency expenses.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

could someone log in and post the entire article?

1/26/2006 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This morning, it worked without a login...I wonder what happened...

1/26/2006 4:04 PM  

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