NYU graduate student strike enters second week as GSOC-UAW makes concessions


A strike by New York University graduate students for higher wages, tuition waivers and better health care and protection for immigrant and international students has now entered its second week with the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), affiliated with the United Auto Workers, already abandoning key demands.

It is apparent that the NYU administration is pressing for a full capitulation by the GSOC-UAW.

Striking NYU graduate students (WSWS media)

The university administration is clearly waiting for the end of the semester, which will be over next week at NYU, in the confident expectation that the GSOC-UAW will sell out on all the major demands advanced by students.

In one of its most significant concessions to date, on Monday the GSOC-UAW dropped the demand for unit erosion.

At NYU, many graduate students are employed on an hourly basis. Unlike what exists at many other universities, teaching is not part of the stipend that NYU Ph.D. students receive. In many departments NYU graduate students have a lower base stipend than at Columbia University, for instance (where teaching is tied to the stipend), and have to apply separately for teaching positions to get additional income. Stipends can be well below $30,000 a year and are usually disbursed for only 9 months.

Many positions were cut during the pandemic and graduate students struggled to obtain a job that allowed them to receive additional income. Therefore graduate students advanced the key demand that the bargaining unit not be reduced to under 90 percent of its 2018–2019 level. This was to prevent the university from trying to offset a contractual increase in wages by drastically reducing the number of positions that are available to graduate students. International students, in particular, are reliant on these university job offers since, due to visa restrictions, they are often not allowed to work off-campus or run into significant challenges doing so.

Nevertheless, on Monday, the GSOC-UAW unceremoniously dropped the demand to prevent unit erosion, even without a prior membership meeting. The union made several other concessions to the university, including accepting only 30-day notifications on changes to the student health plan “when practicable” for NYU and accepting NYU’s proposal on the Dependent Premium Support Plan.



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