GSOC negotiates tentative contract with NYU administration


Marita Vlachou and Alanna Bayarin

After five hours of deliberation, the NYU administration and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee reached a tentative agreement in their contract negotiations, averting the planned four-day strike.

GSOC announced a deal was made at approximately 1:15 a.m. The details of the contract will be formalized in the following days.

After the agreement was reached, the GSOC bargaining committee released several terms of the agreement, including a 100 percent increase in wages, a gradual wage increase at the Polytechnic School of Engineering to $20 an hour by the end of the contract and 90 percent subsidized individual health care for the graduate students who are not already covered.

When negotiations began in December 2013, GSOC had been fighting for several more ambitious contract stipulations, including increasing wages to $25 per hour, 100 percent subsidized health care and complete tuition remission.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the university is content with the potential agreement.

“The university has been very pleased to have come to a tentative agreement with the [union],” Beckman said. “Let’s just hope that very few students have bet on a job action and failed to study for their midterms.”

After the announcement, Anne Pasek, a first-year doctoral student and GSOC member, said everyone was satisfied with the agreement and believed it was a direct result of their social action.

“We’re exhausted, but we’re also relieved,” Pasek said. “This has been more than a year coming, many, many unpaid hours of work to get here. It wasn’t a victory that came through the grace of NYU. It was something we fought and won tooth and nail. I think we’re all really jubilant right now.”

A number of undergraduate students stayed outside the bargaining session to support GSOC in its negotiations with the university.

Gallatin senior Jonah Walters, who helped organize several actions in support of GSOC, said students gathered to stand in solidarity and face the university bargainers before the mediating began.

“We formed two lines of people holding banners and holding signs, so that when the university bargainers left the room, they would have to see all of us,” Walters said. “They delayed coming out for 40 minutes, and when they finally left they used the back entrance so they wouldn’t have to walk past all the students holding signs.”

GSOC members and supporters felt that the treatment of teaching assistants does not reflect the work they put into their students’ educations. Darach Miller, a doctoral student, said teaching assistants often take on tasks to accommodate students for which they are uncompensated.

“I get paid for two one-hour and 15-minute recitations,” Miller said. “I don’t get paid to go to lecture. I do it, just to make sure I’m doing my best. That doesn’t count the eight hours of Saturday grading the damn homework assignments, another hour on all the quizzes. I’m there for them.”

Gallatin junior Robert Ascherman, a member of NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement, said teaching assistants play a large role in students’ education, and they deserve higher wages for their influence.

“I think the issue is really how are the people who make sure that they survive at this university being treated,” Ascherman said. “I can’t pass my classes without the TAs, who are giving exam prep sessions, grading my things or meeting me after class to study.”

Additional reporting by John Ambrosio and Valentina Duque Bojanini.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 10 print edition. Email Alanna and Marita at [email protected].