NYU addresses payroll backlog, student workers still unsatisfied

Haley Quinn, Vishnu Bachani, and Aaron Petykowski (from left to right) of NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) protest in front of the NYU Welcome Center on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, advocating a raise in student worker pay to $15 an hour.

NYU released a memorandum to student workers on Friday discussing the ongoing undergraduate student-worker wage backlog. The backlog has drawn the attention of the Student Labor Action Movement, which has discussed it in meetings and held a protest on Oct. 9.

Written by Finance & Executive Executive Vice President Martin Dorph, the email includes apologies and reiterates previous statements that explained the delays.

“NYU understands its obligation and takes it as a point of honor that student employees are paid what they are owed on time,” the email reads. “The vast majority of the time, they are.  Unfortunately, we know that we have not been flawless in fulfilling this obligation. If you are a student worker who has suffered a delay in being paid, I want to offer an apology.”

The email says the most common reasons for late pay are workers failing to complete paperwork or inconsistent records of hours worked. The email reads that most cases will be resolved within a few days of the student reaching out to the university.

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“More important than an apology is a solution and a path forward,” the email reads. “After hearing concerns from students who experienced delays in receiving their paychecks, the university wants to make certain that student employees know what to do when problems arise.”

The memorandum details NYU’s internal explanation, but says nothing about the errors in the PeopleLink system that are responsible for the problem. However, the university promises to rectify the paperwork issues.

The Graduate Student Organizing Committee released a statement in response to Dorph’s email relaying their frustration with the university’s perceived lack of action and their solidarity with undergraduates.

“[The email] fails to provide what students in this situation want most: accountability and a timeline,” the email from GSOC-UAW reads. “We want to know why the university couldn’t pay its workers on time and we want a commitment to fixing this problem as soon as possible.”

As the university and student-workers try to sort out the delays and recover student wages, some NYU students, like Stern freshman Jainam Shah, are puzzled and disappointed by the situation.

“It’s strange that students have to file claims and wait weeks for pay for work they’ve already done,” Shah said. “Obviously, NYU doesn’t lack the resources to pay them.”

However, Director of Public Affairs Matt Nagel said the university is continuing to make progress clearing the backlog of claims.

“At the time of the meeting with SLAM representatives, there were 50 identified students who had discrepancy with their pay; of those, 40 were less than a week old,” Nagel said. “All but one of those original cases have been resolved, and we’re working hard with the student to resolve the last one.”

Email Thomas Perocchio at [email protected]

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