The union that represents 1,400 clerical, administrative and technical staff at the university, UCATS Local 3882, will begin contract negotiations with NYU Sept. 18. The current six-year contract between the union and NYU expires Oct. 31.
UCATS Local 3882, which stands for Union of Clerical, Administrative and Technical staff, has had its current collective bargaining agreement in place since November 2011.
“We’re hopeful,” UCATS President and Administrative Assistant Stephen Rechner said. “The indicators appear that both President Hamilton and Sabrina Ellis, the Vice President for Human Resources, are interested and concerned about all members of the community.”
However, relations between UCATS and NYU have not always been amicable. The last time UCATS met with NYU at the bargaining table was in 2011.
“2011 was an extremely difficult year for us,” Linda Wambaugh, a lead organizer for UCATS, said. “Our team was treated very disrespectfully.”
In 1988, UCATS staged a three-week strike against NYU.
“Prior to the strike, the university did lots of legally hostile things to our members, almost as if to say that this union is temporary,” Rechner said.
According to Rechner, who served as a captain during the 1988 strike, NYU was forced to “change its tone” and “accept that this union was here to stay.”
UCATS leadership said that affordability of living, job security, family and childcare leave are some of the top priorities for the bargaining team as negotiations approach.
“On childcare, NYU offers six weeks parental bonding leave to their administrators and research professional staff, but they don’t to their clerical and technical staff,” Rechner said. “We have to ask the question, are our families worth less? Are our children less deserving? We believe they’re not. If they know how to implement it for one group of workers, they shouldn’t have a problem implementing it for ours.”
Nearly 40 percent of current UCATS members are either current NYU students or alumni — including Rechner — who serves as an academic aid at NYU Law.
“Most of them are in graduate school, which means their tuition remission benefit, while generous, is treated by the IRS as imputed income,” Rechner said. “So if you’re getting $20,000 of tuition, you are paying $5,000 in tax on them, in addition to regular taxes on your earnings. It’s as if you’ve added $20,000 to your income, so it significantly reduces their take home pay.”
UCATS members work in all schools and divisions at NYU except for the School of Medicine.
“Even before you get here, you have dealt with our members. We work in the admissions office, the bursar’s office, the financial aid office, the bookstore, as secretaries andassistants, in the labs,” Rechner said. “Everywhere you go, you’re dealing with UCATS members. We deliver educational services to the students. We don’t stand in front of the classroom and teach you, but we do virtually everything else. We’re proud to do it well.mOur members can move mountains for a student, for a faculty member, or a manager because we know all the systems.”
Sandy Dubin, NYU’s Associate General Counsel & Director of Labor Relations, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Correction: Sept. 11, 2017
A previous version of this article misstated the name of the Vice President for Human Resources. Her name is Sabrina Ellis, not Sabine Alice.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 11 print edition. Email Mark Sheffer at [email protected]