New York University and the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110 today announced that they have reached a settlement in the bargaining between the University and its graduate assistants (GAs). This is the first collective bargaining agreement between a private university and a union representing graduate assistants.

The agreement reaffirms fundamental academic prerogatives of the University, it provides for substantial increases in stipends and health care coverage for graduate assistants, and it insures NYU’s competitiveness in attracting the highest quality graduate students in the world.

Among other provisions, the agreement will substantially raise the minimum that GAs can receive as a stipend, will provide stipend increases to every GA, and will give full health coverage to every GA by the next academic year.

Graduate assistants, who average 20 hours per week over the 30-week academic year, also receive tuition remission, valued at some $20,000 per year.

The University and the UAW began bargaining last spring. In all, there were some 19 bargaining sessions.

The tentative agreement was approved by the bargaining committees for the University and the UAW Local 2110 on Monday, January 28. The contract will need to be ratified by graduate assistants in the bargaining unit. Ratification voting is expected to take place on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 30.

Robert Berne, NYU’s Vice President for Academic and Health Affairs and the leader of the University’s bargaining team, said, ” From the very outset, I emphasized a number of principles that would guide us in working on a contract: the primacy of our fundamental academic mission, values and prerogatives; a recognition of the importance of graduate students to our community; the need to be competitive with peer institutions in attracting excellent graduate students; and a commitment to good faith bargaining to achieve a good, fair contract.

“I am pleased to say that this proposed contract achieves all these aims.

“There is still much room for skepticism about the place and role of organized labor in graduate education, but this much is true: we have crafted a good and fair contract that matches our primary objectives.

“I want to recognize the many members of the faculty who provided counsel, assistance, and support during this long process. They deserve the praise of our entire University community.”

Dr. L. Jay Oliva, president of NYU, said, “This was terra incognita – no private university had faced this challenge before. The unionization of graduate assistants at public universities under state laws was not analogous. I am very pleased at the outcome of these efforts. Many members of the faculty and many administrators contributed to this achievement. However, two members of our community are deserving of particular praise: Bob Berne and Terry Nolan. Their skillful work resulted in a fine and fair contract that reaffirms our most critical academic values.”

New York University has some 18,000 graduate and professional students, some 1,030 of whom are graduate assistants covered by the collective bargaining agreement. The University has some 18,000 undergraduate students.

New York University, which was established in 1831, is one of the largest and most prestigious private research universities in the U.S. It receives more applications for freshman admission and has more international students than any other private college or university in the nation. Through its 13 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences; law; medicine; dentistry; education; nursing; business; social work; the cinematic, studio and performing arts; public administration and policy; and continuing studies, among other areas.

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