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

Contract faculty union to vote on formal recognition

Following a five-year-long fight for unionization, the contract faculty union at NYU reached an agreement with the university that could allow it to be formally recognized.
Members of the NYU Contract Faculty United-UAW outside of Bobst Library. (Courtesy of Aaron Posner)

NYU Contract Faculty United, the union representing hundreds of contract faculty at the university, recently signed an agreement with administrators that allows the group to vote on whether it should be represented by a single union — the next step in its efforts for recognition.

The Jan. 3 agreement states that union recognition for CFU-UAW, will be determined in a “secret ballot election,” in which union members will vote on whether they want the group to represent them in collective bargaining with NYU. If a majority votes “yes,” the university will formally recognize the group as an on-campus union and will address the group’s demands.

We’re pleased that our good-faith discussions with CFU-UAW have been productive and brought us to this point,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “We look forward to continuing to maintain a mutually respectful relationship throughout this process.”

CFU-UAW represents more than 500 of around 1,000 contract faculty at NYU. Contract faculty are untenured, full-time professors whose contracts are renewed every few years, whereas other employees, such as adjunct professors, renew their contracts every semester and usually work part time.

The union formed in September 2020 and has been demanding recognition from the university since February of last year, including in several on-campus demonstrations. If the union votes to be recognized by NYU, the group would become the largest union of full-time, untenured professors at any private university in the country, according to CFU-UAW’s press release.  

“It’s been a long process, but it’s also been one that’s really valuable,” union organizer and CAS professor Elisabeth Fay said. “I’m really excited to move forward and try to continue to make sure that everybody who works here, everybody who’s contributing to that education mission, has a secure job, has academic freedom and has their contributions properly valued.” 

The American Arbitration Association, a nonprofit that helps resolve employment disputes as a third party mediator, will conduct the election in place of the National Labor Relations Board — an independent federal agency that protects certain labor rights. In a written statement to WSN, Franklin Moss — a partner at the law firm Spivak Lipton and an adjunct professor at the City University of New York — said he thinks the AAA’s involvement in place of the NLRB will hasten the election process.

The agreement between contract faculty and NYU comes only a few months after the university denied recognition to the recently formed researchers’ union, composed of more than 2,000 researchers on campus, claiming the term “researchers” is too broad as an employment categorization. Following the rejection, the group filed a petition for recognition with the NLRB.

Other on-campus labor unions have successfully entered collective bargaining processes with NYU in the past. The university’s adjunct faculty union, ACT-UAW Local 7902, reached a new agreement with the university that included increased wages, better health care coverage and other benefits in November 2022, narrowly avoiding a strike that had been authorized just days before. The graduate student union, GSOC-UAW Local 2110, also negotiated a contract with the university after a three-week-long strike in 2021. 

CFU-UAW member and Gallatin professor Jacob Remes said that a majority vote in the upcoming election would be a significant step forward for the union’s fight for recognition.“We’re really close to having this opportunity to vote ‘yes,’” Remes said. “To be able to move forward and make sure that the university invests in us, because investing in us is investing in the quality of NYU’s education.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Bruna Horvath
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.

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