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

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Contract faculty win union recognition

A majority of contract faculty voted in favor of being represented by Contract Faculty United, meaning the union will now be recognized by NYU.
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Matt Petres
(Matt Petres for WSN)

NYU Contract Faculty United will now officially represent hundreds of contract faculty at NYU, following a Feb. 28 vote where over 500 faculty expressed support for the union. The majority vote makes the union the largest on-campus representative for full-time, untenured professors at any private university in the country, according to a union press release. 

The American Arbitration Association — a nonprofit specializing in third-party mediation for employment disputes — conducted the secret ballot election, which saw 87% of contract faculty vote in favor of CFU-UAW representing them in collective bargaining negotiations with the university. The vote means the union will now be formally recognized by NYU. 

“We congratulate the CFU on the outcome of their election; as the university promised, we maintained neutrality throughout the election process,” university spokesperson John Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “NYU recognizes the important contributions that full-time continuing contract faculty make to the university community; NYU is committed to bargaining in good faith to come to agreement on a contract.”

The university signed an agreement with the union to conduct an election on collective bargaining in January. CFU-UAW, which formed in September 2020, has been calling for recognition since February of last year, and held multiple on-campus demonstrations since.

Organizer with the union and CAS professor Elisabeth Fay said the next step for CFU-UAW is to determine what it would like to include in its collective bargaining agreement with NYU.

“We need to come together as a union. We need to get our full membership together and talk about how to move forward with bargaining,” Fay said. “Right now, we don’t have structures in place to negotiate a contract because we just won this election. We have to come together and start building those structures so we can move forward.”

The union represents more than half of NYU’s contract faculty, untenured full-time professors who are typically hired by the university based on contracts renewed every one to three years.

A group of 17 people raise one of their fists in a group picture.
(Matt Petres for WSN)

The decision to recognize CFU-UAW comes only a few months after the university denied recognition to NYU Researchers United, a union of over 2,000 researchers on campus. At the time, NYU said the term “researchers” is too broad of a term for the group to be represented under the same union, and that it could not recognize the union because it has members across schools that do not have labor agreements with the university, such as the College of Dentistry, the School of Law and NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Other labor groups on campus have seen recent successes. In November 2022, ACT-UAW Local 7902, the union representing adjunct faculty at NYU, agreed to a new contract with the university after narrowly avoiding a strike, gaining higher wages and improved health care coverage. 

“This now establishes, without any doubt, that this is a union campus,” clinical professor at the School of Professional Studies Thomas Hill said. “I would fully expect that that’s going to continue in the future. The ball started rolling with the graduate students and then the adjuncts and now us and I would fully expect that the researchers are going to be the next ones to be able to win union representation.”

In 2013, NYU officially recognized the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, the union representing graduate student workers at NYU, after it affiliated with the United Automobile Workers. Successful negotiations resulted in GSOC establishing a contract with NYU in 2015, followed by federal recognition in 2016. The union’s most recent contract with the university  came after a three-week-long strike in 2021.

CAS professor Mark Braley said that after spending seven years in CFU-UAW, he is looking forward to the collective bargaining process.

“It just seemed like it might not ever happen,” Braley said. “So for this day to come, we’re all overjoyed.”

Update, Feb. 29: This article has been updated with a statement from an NYU spokesperson.

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
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.
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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