Sunday, October 29, 2006

News Coverage in Union Publications

From New York Academe's Fall issue, the publication of the New York chapter of the AAUP (while Nerds just received this recently, it is clear it is slightly out-of-date, or maybe not based on the best reporting and editing):
The NYU Graduate Student Strike Update: Press States the Strike is Over

Press reports indicate that the strike by graduate student teaching assistants opposed to New York University's decision not to negotiate a new contract with their union has come to an end without the completion of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The student members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, who had been affiliated with Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers, struck on November 9, 2005.
The University, which had recognized the union in 2002, decided during the summer of 2005 not to negotiate a new contract after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had reversed an earlier decision and held that teaching assistants at private universities were not employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

While the strike has not officially been terminated (there is no mention of the strike's current status on the union website), the Washington Square News reported that virtually all teaching assistants, including the leaders of the strike, are teaching this semester.

The graduate students have been supported by a number of NYU faculty, many of whom formed a group called Faculty Democracy, which has developed a broad agenday that includes a broader role for faculty in university governance and prioroties.
Support also came from many local politicians and union leaders. AAUP President Cary Nelson and Jane Buck, his immediate predecessor, were both arrested as part of a protest supporting the striking students.

While the strike has ended, efforts to pressure the NYU administration hto recognize the union have not. Graduate Student Organizing Committee head, Michael Palm, in an interview with, said that, "We don't know exactly what our next move will be yet...But it's clear that the UAW is here to stay."

For more on the strike, go to the Union's website: or Faculty Democracy's website:

The October 2006 issue of The Clarion, the newspaper of PSC-CUNY, also has an article on the end of the strike--but that one is much better. It focuses on the role of retaliation, the successes we had in the petition campaign in the spring, and the tactical decision-making process.

Monday, October 23, 2006

News Updates

The Liberacion Radio Collective at the University of Illinois has produced a radio show about the GSOC struggle. At the site for the show, you can also see video of a rally they held in support of GSOC.

Faculty at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, California are striking, which they say is the first strike of California community college faculty in a quarter century. (An update on the strike is available in Tuesday's

Friday, October 13, 2006

News from the American Federation of Teachers

The October 2006 issue of AFT On Campus, the monthly publication of the American Federation of Teachers higher education division, just came out. It carries three stories about graduate student unionism:

  1. A story of the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions conference this August notes that the Coalition passed a reolution pleding to support GSOC.
  2. Temple University's Graduate Student Association has secured a second contract. Provisions include an average of 3% for annual raises, year-round health coverage with a choice of two health plans, better greivance procedures for workload issues, an agency-fee clause that kicks in if the union maintains at least 70% membership, and a plan to investigate child-care options.
  3. At the University of Illinois, where the Graduate Employees Union has been working without a contract for a few months, the union placed ads on billboards around campus just in time for the beginning of the academic year that point out that 30% of UI classes are taught by grad assistants. The university has announced that wages will be frozen until a contract deal is in place in a move designed to discourage grad employees from seeking a better health care deal (only 25% of premium costs are paid).

In other news, The Chronicle of Higher Education has a big article about the strike and union strategy in this week's issue. This link will work for five days from today.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

NYU's "Community Facilities?"

After the crane incident on 13th street and 3rd ave last week, elderly residents evacuated from nearby buildings sought shelter in the NYU dorm on 11th and 3rd. NYU security called the police to remove them, leaving them with only the option of walking to 17th street for shelter until 2 am. NYU receives allowances excusing it from various zoning and tax requirements because its dorms are considered community facilities. How can something be a community facility if elderly people are not even allowed to sit in the lobby after being evacuated from their homes? (Incidently, not a single NYU facility has been made accessable to the public during OpenHouseNewYork, a weekend allowing the public to see the insides of architecturally and historically significant buildings, even though NYU owns such significant buildings as the former Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the houses on Washington Mews. Again, not community facilities.)

Nerds intend to write a post about the most recent union-busting NLRB decision whey they have a bit more time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Town Hall Meeting

So as to appear accessible and approachable, Sexton hosts at least one Town Hall meeting open to all students (graduate and undergraduate) each semester. The first Town Hall meeting of 2006-2007 was held last week. For coverage of the general issues discussed, see the Washington Square News article on the meeting.

The first interesting thing to note about this meeting is that Sexton and his student puppet government revised the format of the meeting so that attendees' questions would have to be pre-screened. Only after GSOC members objected were attendees even allowed to read their own questions at the microphone!

The second interesting thing to note is that when asked what the priorities for student government at NYU should be this year, Sexton's responses were not focused on any of the many problems internal to NYU (whether graduate employee working conditions, the financial difficulties facing undergraduates, improving academic integrety, or anything else germane to an academic institution). Instead, he avoided the question by listing his personal favorite global issues, like poverty and global warming. Now, Nerds are all for taking action against poverty and global warming, but aside from reducing the poverty of NYU students and using fewer fossil fuels on campus, there is not much the student council can do about these things.

And the third interesting thing to note is that someone finally asked Sexton why he goes around hugging people without their permission. Sexton had the audacity to claim that he does not ever hug people without their permission--when many people in the room had been so hugged! Nerds wonder why Sexton's high-priced lawyers have not told him that hugging people without their permission (or even with it, if that permission has been coerced by the power of the presidency) could constitute sexual harassment.

The Washington Square News continued its coverage of the Town Hall meeting with an editorial today suggesting that while the new format attempted at this Town Hall was inappropriate, something needs to be done to prevent "unfair manipulation by groups like GSOC." Nerds just want to take this moment to inform the unnamed authors of this editorial that GSOC members who attend Town Hall meetings attend as individual graduate students at NYU. We ask our questions as individuals. We do not have some fancy cabal prior to the meeting where we decide which questions to ask, who should ask them, and how to prevent anyone else from saying anything. In fact, at some Town Halls, there have been fewer than 10 people in attendance who are not GSOC members (including the WSN reporter!). In actuality, what is going on is that GSOC members are the people who care the most about the future of our university, the people who choose to make the time to show up and to work for a better environment for all of us.