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

Clerical and technical workers deliver petition for higher wages to Mills

Dozens of NYU’s clerical and technical staff met at Bobst Library yesterday to deliver a petition to President Linda Mills, calling for higher wages and increased benefits in their union’s new contract with the university.
Kiran Komanduri
Clerical employees at NYU, members of UCATS Local 3882 gathered inside Bobst Library. (Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

Around 30 members of the union representing clerical and technical staff at NYU, UCATS Local 3882, gathered inside Bobst Library on Wednesday afternoon to deliver a petition to President Linda Mills, demanding higher wages and improved health benefits in the union’s new contract with the university. 

The union, which represents about 1,300 university staff, met in Bobst’s lobby before making its way to Mills’ office on the 12th floor. The group handed the petition to NYU spokesperson John Beckman, who said he would “make sure it gets to Linda” and thanked them for their bargaining efforts. 

Local 3882’s current contract, which was finalized in November 2017, will expire by the end of the day Friday after being extended once. The union is hoping its demands will be reflected in the new contract. 

“We want to achieve a contract for our members that recognizes the value of their work today, but also for all of the contributions that our members made during the COVID-19 shutdown,” union president Stephen Rechner told WSN. “The university, this time, has been respectful — they’re trying. We’ve made movements just this past week, and it’s always a hard process for everybody.”

In its Dec. 4 petition, the union claimed the university has rejected multiple proposals — including those aimed at improving health coverage and compensation — during contract negotiations over the past eight weeks. The union’s petition, which has gained around 1,640 signatures, alleges that NYU has never compensated clerical, administrative and technical staff for “hardships” experienced during the pandemic.

A person wearing a gray jacket holds a sign reading “N.Y.U. It doesn’t work without us! U.C.A.T.S. Union of Clerical, Administrative and Technical Staff at N.Y.U.”
(Kiran Komanduri for WSN)

In a written statement to WSN, Beckman said that NYU has rejected and accepted some of the union’s proposals during its negotiations, adding that “this is in the nature of bargaining.”

“The university and union continue to bargain in good faith and productively, with offers and counteroffers,” Beckman wrote. “The university made proposals with regard to health benefits that would both add and improve to the benefits provided and implement some plan design changes to help offset additional costs, while continuing to provide affordable coverage options for union members.”

Beckman also said that unionized employees receive compensation based on contracts, and that NYU had frozen salary increases for faculty and administrators to help pay for “hundreds of millions of dollars of impact” on the university due to the pandemic. He noted that the university “honored” its contract and provided Local 3882 with previously agreed-upon increases during this period, and that NYU followed a “no layoff” strategy, saying the university did not deviate from the union’s agreed-upon compensation.

In another statement to WSN, Rechner said that Beckman “is only technically accurate” in citing the salary increases, adding that the union members received a contractually mandated 2.5% raise in September 2020, while other faculty and administrators did not. 

“That raise was neither a sign of NYU appreciation for UCATS members’ efforts during COVID-19 nor an honor bestowed upon us by NYU — it was just what they were contractually mandated to do,” Rechner wrote. That’s what a contract is. For Beckman to suggest that this was a sign of NYU appreciation or honor is nonsense and he knows it.” 

Rechner also noted extra payments to other university employees for the 2023-24 academic year, which were included in a universitywide email regarding NYU’s new budget parameters this past summer. In the email, administrators stated that “all eligible full-time administrators, researchers and faculty” would receive a minimum payment of $1,500 and a maximum payment of $4,000 in September “in recognition of pressures created by current economic conditions.”

Luke McCrory contributed reporting.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Deputy Managing Editor
Yezen Saadah is a sophomore studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah, Twitter @yezen_saadah and — most importantly — Letterboxd @Yezen, or just send tips to [email protected].

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    BridggetDec 14, 2023 at 11:05 am

    Many of us were laid of in 2020 and the administration is obfuscating this fact, making vaguely word claims of following a “no layoff strategy.” This misleading by design. The union should be refuting these lies, but seems reluctant to acknowledge the layoffs in print. Perhaps conceding to layoffs makes the union’s promises of job security look flimsy? At least there is one point of apparent consensus between the administration and the union – the idea that the layoffs make both sides look bad and should be kept like a dirty secret, at the expense of all the workers who had their jobs permanently eliminated. We were thrown out in the cold in 2020 just before the holidays with no health insurance and no job prospects, as no one was hiring at that time.