UCATS and NYU Clash Over Contract Details

Members of UCATS rallied outside 105 E 17 St in the afternoon on Nov 14.

After weeks of negotiations for a new contract, NYU has responded with a contract proposal to demands set forth by the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Technical Staff Local 3882 two weeks ago.

These proposals include the elimination and reduction of certain benefits for UCATS workers and an hourly wage proposal that is lower than UCATS’ original wage proposal, UCATS organizer Linda Wambaugh said.

The two sides appear far from reaching a deal. “The major items remain to be settled,” UCATS said in its Nov. 22 bargaining update.

UCATS members have expressed their dissatisfaction with the university’s recent proposal, saying that it does not address the concerns set forth in the union’s draft of the contract.

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While refraining from going into detail, Wambaugh listed some proposals set forth by NYU in its response that the union views as disheartening.

“We had hoped that the new NYU administration would shift its employment policies in concrete ways — i.e. better wages, benefits and support for employee rights — to support and invest in their hardworking, well-educated and highly skilled employees and to start trying to get their cost savings through other means,” Wambaugh said in an email. “Perhaps trimming the lavish compensation and perks extended to the very top administrators.”

The two sides have primarily been arguing over higher wages and affordable health insurance, according to UCATS president and Stern graduate Stephen Rechner.

NYU responded to UCATS’ complaints, saying NYU’s proposal addresses the union’s demands set forth in UCATS’ original proposal.

“The union has been calling on the university to respond to its economic proposal, and we have done exactly that with a proposal that provides for salary increases in every year of the contract that are very much in line with the increases characteristically set aside for administrators,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman said. “It is hard to understand why that should be described as ‘disheartening.’”

Nevertheless, Wambaugh said that UCATS believes NYU ignored the union’s concerns and views the university’s proposal as a continuation of suppressing employee wages and benefits despite an increase in productivity for workers, as well as an attempt to restrict employees’ legal and union rights.

To express their discontent with NYU’s proposal, UCATS members held a rally last Tuesday outside of Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. Approximately 40 people were in attendance. They have also created an online petition on change.org that has received over 1,000 signatures.

UCATS, which represents nearly 1,400 members of NYU’s staff, has been in negotiations for a new six-year contract with the university since Sept. 18. The contract, which was agreed upon in 2011, expired on Oct. 31 of this year. After failing to reach an agreement, both sides extended the deadline for agreement to Nov. 30.

With the Nov. 30 deadline quickly approaching, NYU and UCATS must look to find a contract agreement soon.

The next and final bargaining meeting between NYU and UCATS before Thursday’s deadline will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 28. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, however, the deadline will most likely be extended to allow negotiations to continue, Wambaugh said.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email Lorenzo Gazzolla at [email protected]

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