Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Great Day for GSOC

At 12 noon today, hundreds of GSOC members, faculty and undergraduate supporters, members of other graduate employee unions, and visiting dignitaries from across the labor movement met in Judson Memorial Church to hold a rally in celebration of the fact that GSOC/UAW 2110 has officially recertified its majority support among NYU graduate employees.

The program included a rousing speeches of support for GSOC by John Wilhelm (Co-President of Unite-HERE), Elizabeth Bunn (Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW), a pastor from Judson Memorial Church, faculty supporters from NYU and from the AAUP, and New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. Also, a letter of support from New York State Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer urging the NYU administration to bargain a second contract was read. The total number of signatures gathered from members of the bargaining unit in each department were announced to show the breadth and depth of support from across the employee body.

Five GSOC members spoke about their involvement with GSOC and their own personal reasons for wanting a union: job security in the expository writing program, for example, and fairness in appointments for international graduate students in chemistry. A GSOC member from the economics department told the audience how economists study "the invisible hand of the market," but the only hand he's experienced in this struggle is the hand of John Sexton. A member of the original group who met in 1996 (!) to start the process of organizing for a graduate employee union at NYU, Kitty Krupat, presented a brief history of GSOC. And many of the speakers talked about how inspiring and dedicated the members of GSOC are.

One of the great things about the event is that a lot of people who have not been involved with GSOC in the past much or at all came out today to represent their departments and show their committment to winning a second contract. We had representatives from ever corner of campus, from psychology to physics, from classics to computer science.

After the rally was over, the assembled group gathered for a march across Washington Square to the Arch, a march that was filled with the sounds of chants, drums, and an acordian playing "Solidarity Forever." Many of the people sunbathing or dog-walking in the park stood still to watch the line of marchers streching all the way across the park from top to bottom. At the arch, we lined up on both sides of Washington Square North to watch as approximately 50 (more specific figures will have to wait for the news reports) held a sit-in in the street, blocking traffic until they were all arrested and carted off to jail to the sounds of applause and chanting from their fellow GSOCers.

It was a wonderful and inspiring event, a time for us to all celebrate our strength and our committment, and a time to show NYU that we are not going away. We will be here as long as it takes. And we are only growing stronger, louder, and more determined.

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