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Committee to address graduate worker conflicts

Posted on February 10, 2014 | by Ann Schmidt

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Eight members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee/United Automobile Workers were elected to be a part of the GSOC/UAW Local 2110 Bargaining Committee on Feb. 5. The nominations opened on Jan. 22 and, according to the notice about nominations, all eligible union supporters were automatically nominated. The nominees who wanted to participate had to submit an acceptance by Jan. 31.

When all steps in the process were completed, Pushkar Bharambe, Lily Defriend, Brady Fletcher, Yeshim Iqbal, Aryeh Katz, Jeong Min Kim, Natasha Raheja and Theadora Tolkin became the official members.

The group had been waiting to agree on an updated contract with NYU for eight years but had faced opposition to unionization from the administration until last semester.

“The possibility that I could be a part of creating a historic contract that would go a long way to protecting graduate student labor at NYU is something I decided I wanted to do,” said Fletcher, a Cinema Studies doctoral student.

Tim Neff, a Steinhardt doctoral student studying Media, Culture and Communication, said he looks forward to the progress the new committee could make.

“I’m sure they will work for a contract that benefits all graduate employees and mutually benefits the university by keeping those employees and their families healthy and happy,” Neff said. “This is a unique and historic moment, and I’m sure the committee will do a great job.”

The committee’s plans will primarily focus on health care, family-friendly benefits and inequities between employees at the Washington Square NYU campus and the Poly campus in Brooklyn, Fletcher explained.

“Our goal is fair compensation for the work that we do, improved and equal working conditions for everyone across campus and ensuring that NYU is an inclusive employer to its graduate students with families and children,” Fletcher said.

Voicing and addressing the concerns will not happen immediately, as the group has not yet scheduled a date for the first meeting with the university.

“We still have to ratify our proposals with the membership before we actually go to the table,” said Defriend, a doctoral student in Anthropology.

Fletcher said the committee wants the university will be interested in negotiating the issues all graduate employees must face.

“We are hoping that the university’s neutral stance during the election in December signals that they are prepared to [negotiate], so we can set new standards as a highly competitive, world class university, and so the union and the university can build a respectful relationship that will facilitate negotiating a great contract,” Fletcher said.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, February 10 print edition. Ann Schmidt is a desk editor. Email her at


Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

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