Friday, March 10, 2006

Draft of Grad Grievance Procedure

The NYU administration has released a draft of the proposed "grievance procedure" that they are trying to substitute for collective bargaining and union grievances.

So what does this proposal say?

Well, first of all, it is only used if the grievance can not be resolved via the alternative methods of a procudure internal to a specific school--meaning that whatever the Working Group ends up with, it could easily be superceeded by changed internal to GSAS or other divisions of NYU.

"Facilitators" will be available to shepard cases through the grievance procedure, but these facilitators will not be available to give advice to or advocate for individuals. This means that while NYU has lawyers on staff and on call to help them win, plaintiffs will not even have a volunteer and semi-trained advocate to stand by their side. (The proposal does offer plaintiffs the opportunity to bring a single advocate with them, but this advocate will have to be paid for my the plaintiff and will generally not be familiar with the grievance procedure).

The panel conveined to decide on the grievance does not actually make a binding decision--not even a binding decision that could then be appealed. Rather, the Provost, David McLaughlin, (or "the Provost's designee") can overturn or wipe away the decision of the panel on any basis--and this does not even take place until up to 45 days after the original filing of the grievance.

If the plaintiff wished to appeal the Provost's decision, she or he can do so only if the grievance concerns "non-academic matters" (as defined in our union contract, this means primarily economic matters). Then, the plaintiff will be able to have a hearing before one member of a five-member panel of academics external to NYU who are appointed by "mutual agreement" between the administration and the House of Delegates (the new toothless student government). These decisions will be considered binding, meaning that the ultimate authority resides with a single unnamed external academic.

As noted above, the proposal relies on language from the union contract as to what is and is not an academic matter. It also relied on the union contract to define what management rights in terms of academic matters are. So Nerds want to know--why not just let the contract stand, since the language it contains is obviously so good at explaining management rights?

Finally, and most importantly, this proposal specifies that each case "will not have general applicability," meaning that the same issue will have to be grieved over and over again, every semester, ad infinitum. NYU can therefore continue to engage in whatever dirty tricks it wishes--dirty tricks that happen every semester already, like removing illegal taxes from our paychecks or refusing to issue the first paycheck until after over a month of work has taken place. Under our union contract, once these issues had been grieved for the first time, NYU obviously could try to ignore the fact that they were not allowed to engage in such tricks--but we certainly did not have to have an entirely new hearing to prove ourselves anew each time.

"The Graduate Grievance Working Group," whose membership is not made public, claims it would like to hear feedback about its proposal. This feedback should be sent to, and Nerds are fine with you cribbing from our own critiquw.


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