New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU researchers call for union recognition at Bobst

Researchers at the university outlined their demands in a letter to NYU president Linda Mills, marking their first official request for unionization to the university.
Shiphrah Moses
NYU Researchers United delivered their letter calling for university recognition in Bobst Library. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

Dozens of NYU researchers called for union recognition on Thursday, in a letter delivered outside university president Linda Mills’ office in Bobst Library. The protest marked the first time the union, NYU Researchers United, asked the university for recognition.

The letter — signed by over 210 researchers including postdoctoral researchers and graduate assistants — called for higher wages, increased access to housing and additional support for researchers who are parents and international scholars, among other demands. The group delivered the letter to a Campus Safety officer outside Mills’ office, who told them the letter would be passed on to NYU administration.

University spokesperson John Beckman said that NYU will contact the researchers after looking over their demands.

Three people are talking to a campus safety officer. One of them, wearing glasses and a beanie, is holding a piece of paper with text and reading what is written on it.
Researchers present the letter to an NYU campus safety officer in front of President Linda Mills’ office. (Shiphrah Moses for WSN)

After delivering the letter, the researchers reconvened on the first floor of Bobst, holding signs and chanting, “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power” and “What kind of power? Union power.”

“NYU has all the power, they call all the shots,” said Ramin Rahni, a postdoctoral researcher in the biology and genomics department. “The union will allow people to have a democratic voice in the way the workplace is run.”

Members of NYU Contract Faculty United, the union representing over 500 contract faculty at the university, also protested alongside the researchers. The contract faculty union has yet to be recognized by NYU, despite yearslong efforts for recognition.

The researchers union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, is not yet assigned to a local union like other on-campus labor groups like ACT-UAW Local 7902, NYU’s adjunct union. Local 7902 president Zoe Carey previously stated that while the union supports the researchers’ efforts to unionize, it is unsure what local union they would be attached to if recognized. 

The demonstration at Bobst comes after more than 2,600 researchers throughout NYU Langone Health, as well as from the university’s Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses, reached a majority decision to establish the group in June. In 2020, the group wrote a letter in conjunction with NYU’s graduate student worker union demanding more protections for employees during the pandemic.

“The working conditions at NYU could be largely improved,” Loïc Magrou, a postdoctoral researcher at NYU’s Center for Neural Science, said. “Pay is an important part of it, but it’s also about better material working conditions throughout the campuses.” 

The union’s letter urged Mills to remain neutral during the negotiation process and “not attempt to influence researchers against unionizing,” accusing administrations at other institutions, like Cornell University and Northeastern University, of union-busting.

“There’s been so much anti-union activity, especially from other universities like Cornell,” Selena Gupta, a graduate research assistant in the biology department, said. “Just to ensure there’s going to be a fair process for us, that’s all we’re looking for today.”

Contact Shiphrah Moses at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Shiphrah Moses
Shiphrah Moses, Identity & Equity Editor
Shiphrah Moses is a sophomore studying Dramatic Writing at Tisch. She lives in the Bay Area in California, but is originally from Bangalore, India. She loves writing, acting, music and pretty much anything that involves storytelling. When she’s not doing any of the above, she’s either napping or doing her nails. You can find her at @shiphrahmoses on Instagram or contact her at [email protected].

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