Thursday, December 28, 2006

News Updates

Nerds, incidentally, are on winter break, which is why there is not much happening on the blog. But here are some news updates:

Local 94 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the union representing maintenance staff in commercial buildings, has a contract which will expire on December 31st. They held a rally today in Midtown to call for a new contract--what they are asking for is a benefits package that does not require them to dig into their own pockets to fund their health care and pensions. The degree of organization and solidarity in this union are inspirational.

Citylimits.org announced that Governor-Elect Spitzer's appointee for Labor Commissioner, Patricia Smith, will step up enforcement against companies that take advantage of low-wage workers.

The Villager announced that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has convened a task force on NYU issues that will have its first meeting in January. Development and community facilities issues top the list of items for discussion.

And the New York Times reports that NYU's fundraising campaigns involve Big Brother-like data collection tactics, as well as -- surprise -- Sexton's hugs.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Production Assistants' Rally

Support Parking Production Assistants and Coordinators Right to Unionize!

Thursday, December 14, 2006 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
NBC-Universal, 30 Rockefeller Center
(West 50th Street and 6th Avenue, Manhattan)

Parking Production Assistants (PAs) and Coordinators work in the film, television and commercial production industries in New York City. There are over 300 workers and their jobs are to clear out and hold parking space at least 12 hours in advance of a location shoot to allow production equipment to be trucked in.

These workers are working on major productions in New York City, currently including 13 major prime time television and cable series programs, and over a dozen feature films and numerous commercial production jobs. One of the largest producers in New York City is NBC-Universal, which produces the "Law and Order" shows and the new hit
TV show "30 Rock" as well as other TV shows and movies. The production companies benefit from publicly funded tax breaks; they should repay our community for that benefit by recognizing the rights of their workers to unionize.

These workers are predominantly people of color – Caribbean, African-American, Latino, and Asian. A super majority have signed union cards to join the UAW and want a union and a union contract to improve their standard of living and working conditions such as those listed below:

1) Respect - Despite providing an important service to the industry, these workers are treated as an invisible workforce because they are workers of color. Many have said that they have experienced a long history of exclusion.

2) Low pay - Parking PAs get paid an average of $115 to $125 for a 12-hour shift. In order for these workers to make a living, they have to work many shifts. Some work in excess of 100 hours during the week.

3) Limited or no benefits - Workers, except a small handful, do not receive health insurance. There are no retiree benefits.

4) Raise the Level of Their Profession - PAs and Coordinators want to be better ambassadors for the industry through training and certification. They also want to help establish community standards in how production companies approach neighborhoods to improve traffic patterns and parking schemes.

5) Dangerous Working Conditions - Workers are regularly yelled at and sometimes physically harmed by community members upset about the inconveniences created by on-location shooting by production companies.

6) Basic Human Needs - In almost all cases, overnight bathroom facilities are not provided.

7) Job Security - Like other union members in these industries, these UAW members want job security by establishing industry standards for their services through an enforceable union contract.

For more information call Ted Feng at 212-529-2580

House of Delegates Results

So here we are, the results of the House of Delegates elections. The election results are actually far to long to post in the blog, as there are 50 Delegates. However, the key thing is that GSOC candidates won 37 of 50 seats, including all four at-large seats, all 26 seats in GSAS, the one seat in the institute of fine arts, and seats in Steinhardt School of Education, the Courant Institute of Mathematics, and Tisch School of the Arts. Among the seats that we did not win were those for which we did not have candidates--the dental school, the public service school, and the M.D./Ph.D. program. In none of these three schools did any candidate earn even 10 votes--showing that not only did GSOC dominate the polls, GSOC members are the ones who actually care about making this university a better place.

Monday, December 11, 2006

While We Wait, News Updates...

While we wait for the prom committee to finish tallying the votes for House of Delegates, the NYU administration uses its own fake union proposal to earn a Carnegie Commission classification as a "community-engagement university." Of course, the prom committee also claimed that the high turnout (due, of course, to GSOC's get-out-the-vote effort) proves that this structure is innovative and great. There is something to the claim of community engagement, however, as NYU students join community members to protest against the proposed "renovations" of Washington Square Park, renovations that include fencing the park in.

Meanwhile, NYU undergraduate claim that the university is biased against conservatives because their professors won't let them cite Fox News as a source of empirical evidence. Also, NYU is currently exploring plans to cut down trees on Mercer Street on city property to expand its underground co-generation plant--a move which would seem to be in some conflict with NYU's claim that it is good and green now that it spends so much on wind power.

Finally, those interested in the Colbert Report incident might want to know that Sexton did, in fact, hug Stephen Colbert--he just sneakily did so when the cameras were not running. In fact, the whole interview was originally supposed to be about Sexton's course "Baseball as a Road to G-d," but somehow that interview (which would have been much more interesting) got canned in favor of Sexton's blathering about "learning." Incidentally, the course description for Sexton's baseball course displays a curious ethnocentrism by continuing to tag Baseball as an entirely American pastime, ignoring the fact that its popularity may in fact be greater in Japan, the Dominican Republic, and other nations.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sexton on the Colbert Report

Last night, NYU president John Sexton was a guest on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Before each taping, Stephen Colbert warns his audience that he plays a character and that character is an asshole. Unfortunately, as was revealed on the show, Sexton does not play a character. Instead, he always talks too much, thinks he knows everything, and can't take a joke. I mean, come on, you don't go on someone else's show and make fun of the host, and you don't argue with a straw man. In addition, Sexton used the occasion to promote his new casebook rather than to promote NYU--and the ultimate job of all university presidents is to promote and fund raise for their institutions.

UPDATE: To see the interview, go to the Colbert Report archives.

Monday, December 04, 2006

House of Delegates Elections

This week, NYU graduate students vote for representatives to the House of Delegates. Nerds can't come up with a clever name for it, unfortunately--but we'll take suggestions. At least 35 candidates have officially declared their support for GSOC as part of their candidacy. Voting takes place all week; for a list of those candidates who officially support GSOC, email GSOC.

And an event listing:
This Friday, December 8th, workers at the Restaurant Daniel and the Fireman Hospitality Group mount a Justice Ride to protest segregated workplaces and to support their legal claims of discrimination. The Restaurant Workers Justice Ride will begin at Cafe Fiorello at 64th and Broadway at 5:30 and will end with a rally from 6:30 to 7:30 at Restaurant Daniel at 65th and Park Avenue. To participate, call (212) 343-1771 or just show up and see if space is available.