Graduate Employee Negotiations
NYU became the first major private research university to recognize a graduate employee union when it voluntarily and jointly agreed with the UAW in November 2013 to an election among graduate students to collectively bargain. That led to the first contract between a major private research university and a collective bargaining unit of graduate employees—GSOC/UAW—in March 2015.
In July 2020, NYU and GSOC/UAW began negotiations for a renewal of the contract. As of April 22, 2021, there had been 16 bargaining sessions, but no contract. In late March 2021, GSOC/UAW announced a strike authorization vote, and in mid-April, set a strike deadline of April 26, 2021.
GSOC/UAW began its strike on April 26, 2021.
The University believes the strike called by GSOC/UAW is unwarranted, untimely, and regrettable.
NYU renews and continues its call for GSOC/UAW to agree to bring in a mediator to help achieve a settlement.
During the strike, NYU’s priority will be the academic progress of its students and minimizing the strike’s disruption to the University’s educational and scholarly mission.
NYU’s Response to the Bargaining and to the Strike, and NYU’s Call for Mediation
The University was deeply concerned by the slow pace of bargaining: the original contract had 27 provisions, and GSOC/UAW proposed some 90 new ones. Many of its demands were unreasonable—such as a 130% first-year increase in hourly wages—or full-tuition remission for Masters students, or were outside the scope of required bargaining. At several points—both publicly and at the bargaining table—NYU called on GSOC/UAW to agree to bring in a neutral, mutually agreed upon mediator to help bring the two sides together and achieve an agreement. A mediator had helped settle NYU’s prior contract with GSOC/UAW without a strike, and mediators were involved in both Harvard and Columbia’s settlements.
The union steadfastly refused to agree to a mediator.
The University believes the strike called by GSOC/UAW is unwarranted, untimely, and regrettable. Unwarranted because NYU has put a solid set of proposals on the table. Untimely because the union refused to see if mediation could achieve a contract without a strike, because the union refused to bargain on the Thursday and Friday before the strike deadline, and because the union began its strike on April 26 before the start of a previously scheduled and agreed upon bargaining session on that date. And regrettable because GSOC/UAW’s strike comes in a year when NYU’s students have already had to endure so much because of COVID.
During the strike, the University’s first priority will be the academic progress of its students.
NYU continues to call for GSOC/UAW to agree to a mediator as a way to try to bring the negotiating process to closure around a good contract.
NYU’s Graduate Employees Are Paid More Than Peers, and NYU’s Offer Enhances that Further
Although NYU’s graduate employees are paid more than their peers, NYU has nonetheless made a generous offer that provides wage increases for all members every year.
NYU currently pays its graduate employees a minimum hourly wage of $20/hr. Recent settlements at other major private universities provided for lower hourly wages than NYU currently gives; for example, Harvard’s contract set an hourly wage of $17/hr.
Similarly, unlike at other universities, a significant majority of NYU’s fully-funded Ph.D. students receive years of very generous support—full tuition remission, a minimum stipend of some $30,000, and NYU paying their health care premiums (altogether worth worth $100,000/yr)—as pure fellowship, meaning no work requirement. Work they choose to do is compensated over and above that package.
Notwithstanding those higher wages, NYU's proposals include:
- An increase of more than 20% in hourly wages, including a first-year increase of five percent
- A new $200,000 Graduate Employee Health Insurance Support Fund to assist grad employees with out-of-pocket medical costs
- A proposal to double the child care subsidy fund
- Agreeing to a service bonus of 7% of the total amount earned in a semester by graduate employees with semester-based appointments
- Six weeks of paid parental leave to all qualifying graduate employees – a benefit that matches what NYU offers to full-time University employees
A Focus on Our Academic Mission, and What Students Should Do In the Event of Disruption
Strikes are legally protected activity and should be respected as such. That does not mean the University’s academic mission comes to a halt.
In fact, NYU’s primary focus—the focus of its schools, departments, and faculty—will be maintaining the academic progress of its students and sustaining its scholarly enterprise with as little disruption as possible.
Students who find that their class or section is not meeting should be in touch with the relevant academic department or their dean’s office. They will be working to make sure that students’ education proceed, that academic assessments take place, and that grades and academic credit are given.