Thursday, November 30, 2006

And one more thing...

Goodyear tire workers are out on strike. Sign an online petition in support of the workers. And if you are in New York City this Friday, December 1st, join the workers as they protest against NASCAR outside of an awards dinner (Goodyear is the sole suppliers of tires for NASCAR).

Friday, December 1st, 5-7 PM
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
301 Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets

World Labor Updates

The New York Times reports that students and campus workers at Vanderbilt are demanding a living wage for the housekeepers, maintenance workers, and food services staff. While workers live in poverty and some become homeless, the university spend $6 million renovating the Chancellor's house.

At Purdue University, students have entered a hunger strike to protest the University's purchases of licensed products manufactured using sweatshop labor.

An appeals court has ruled that George Washington University adjuncts can unionize with SEIU. Both the court and the NLRB found that GWU had no valid claims against bargaining with the union.

And in Israel, a general strike has closed most of the public sector to protest unpaid wages and unfunded pensions.

Meanwhile, on campus, Sexton received a cut in his salary this year of 11%, dropping to the 10th highest paid university president. The Washington Square News makes the connection between this pay cut and Sexton's lies to GSOC.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Child Care

Need something to read? The AAUP has started a blog enabling readers to comment on articles in Academe. And the PSC-CUNY Clarion for December has a great article about holiday shopping from unionized stores and manufacturers. The article also discusses the brand-new American Association of Pizza Delivery Drivers in Pensacola, FL. These drivers are fighting to be paid minimum wage and to be fully reimbursed for their gasoline expenses. If they can do it, while working two jobs and facing union-busting from a huge national corporation, so can others.

Incidentally, NYU has reserved $750,000 per year (scroll to the bottom after clicking on the link) to help administrators and faculty with the cost of child care. This is absolutely great. It is, however, another example of the ways that life inside NYU is economically unequal. NYU administrators and faculty are, in general, well-paid. Finding and paying for child care may not be easy (this is New York, after all, and NYU faculty do work long hours to conduct the research they need for tenure). But faculty and administrators are much more able to do so than staff and graduate employees. Yet staff can only receive child care subsidies by filling out an application to prove financial need, and the relevant income limitations are not publicly available.

For grad employees, the maximum subsidy is $200 a semester, and even this may be taxable, especially for international students. Assuming a super-cheap rate of $10 an hour: this means grad employees receive one week of part-time child care each semester. Sure, you can raise a child with that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Justice for Janitors? Yes, but only after hoofprints.

Justice for Janitors in Houston has just won a contract for 5,300 workers that will more than double their incomes and provide health care. As part of the strike that won them this contract, non-violent strikers were trampled by horses and arrested and held at over $800,000 bail each (the bail was eventually reduced by a magistrate judge to a more-reasonable $1,000 per striker, though even that sum is very expensive for impoverished minimum-wage workers).

The labor movement is creating the lasting images of struggle and triumph for our generation. We working people will continue to stand up and demand equality, justice, and fair treatment. And we will get it.

If only someone could unionize the horses--then they would refuse to trample strikers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

News Updates

Nerds apologize for their long absence. Their life sometimes does include things other than GSOC. They will try not to let it happen again.

So on for some news updates:

More details on the House of Delegates are available. Among the more objectionable:
--While seats are partitioned among NYU's graduate schools, GSAS will be limited to a maximum of 26 to ensure that it can not be a majority. While law school and medical school students are not part of the electorate, MD/PhD students at Sackler are included, though they do not work for their fellowship money at any time while in graduate school.
--The HoD will not have any binding power, only an advisory role.
--Calls from the existing Graduate Student Council for the electorate to vote on the structure prior to electing members have gone ignored, while Sexton calls this body "pioneering."
--There are few safeguards to protect against vote tampering.

At least the national and NY state elections were good. Nerds know that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic NY governor will provide more political pressure on Sexton and the NYU administration to negotiate with GSOC.

Other news about the bad behavior of NYU:
--Work-study students are having their hours cut, limiting their ability to pay their tuition. The next battleground after graduate employee unionization? Unionization for undergraduate workers. (Readers should note that apparently work-study students are prohibited from talking to the Washington Square News. Now that is a repressive work regime, and it just shows how NYU treats its workers when they don't have union protection).

--NYU owns 9.3 million square feet of real estate (60 buildings) in NYC, of which 25 buildings were purchased since the 1980s--and these numbers do not include the medical and dental schools. All this NYU real estate is tax-free, depriving the city of needed money, and yet it still does not relieve the pressure of gentrification caused by students renting area apartments.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The Washington Square News reports that the GAC puppet government has officially been formed (though word about who is in it is not yet available). This structure claims to be democratic because it is electoral, but electoral positions will be distributed "equally of student representatives from each graduate school, department, and program"--meaning that those students who never have to work a day in their graduate student lives could be the ones making whatever puny decisions they are permitted to make about the lives of those of us who have to work for our pay.

But that's not the scariest part. The scariest part is that the WSN article notes that the GAC is a revolutionary force--ostensibly, because GAC representatives will "be able to speak directly with university officials." Um, university officials have office hours. And telephones. And make meetings. People already talk to them directly--people like the fired strikers from last year whose grievance still is not being heard. People like the Chemistry GAs who took matters into their own hands. That's what power is? That's what democracy is? Being able to "speak to officials?" Sounds like fascism to me.

While we are on the subject of democracy: this Tuesday, November 7th, is Election Day. Be sure to get out and vote--and our union, the UAW, has a website with a list of candidates they have endorsed in local and state races nationwide. These candidates have been chosen because of their records supporting the needs and rights of working people. They are the people we need as we face the most repressive climate for labor in years.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

News Roundup

Faculty at Evergreen State College in Washington State have voted to form a union that includes both full-time and part-time employees.

In Kenya, a faculty strike has shut down 5 of the 6 public universities (coverage is in The Chronicle of Higher Education; subscription required).

Finally, the GSOC Journal reported yesterday that the Chemistry action last month has paid off, with about 100 grad employees finally getting their expected pay instead of having to wait for May to receive it. Chemistry GAs say that this shows the power of collective action to resolve problems--and that, after all, is why we need a second contract.