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“They are trying to intimidate us.” NYU alumni strike again

NEW YORK – When Marwan Shalabi moved from Egypt to New York in 2019 to pursue a doctorate in engineering at New York University, he had $ 700 in his bank account. He thought that would be enough for a settlement. But Shalabi had to pay for the apartment, the mattress and the winter clothes. After recovering from a culinary injury, he began to collect debts. As he waited impatiently for his first graduate scholarship, which would raise $ 2,500 a month, Shalabi realized that the checks would hardly cover the cost of living in his new city. Instead of spending the time and energy he wanted to learn in class, he spent it on worrying about his bank account. Subscribe to The Morning Newsletter of the New York Times. “My study experience was not optimal because I was so obsessed with how to pay for basic necessities,” he said. This week, 28-year-old Shalabi joined more than 1,000 NYU graduate students who were on strike for higher university salaries, among other demands, such as better health care and a change of school with the police department. During the strike, graduate students are relieved of their job responsibilities, including teaching assistantships, evaluating work, and the university-union remain uncertain as the university and union continue to bargain over the terms of the new student contract. More than seven years ago, NYU graduate students became the first in the country to receive voluntary recognition from a private university for their union. As a result, the contract expired in August, and graduate students represented by the United Automotive Workers spent months in heated heated negotiations over the terms of its extension. At the և University ության University Conflict Center, one of the most expensive in the country, postgraduate students are demanding higher salaries. The union’s organizing committee initially offered $ 46 an hour, more than double the current hourly wage for graduate students there, starting at $ 20. After that, the organizing committee rejected its offer, making $ 32 per hour. Over the course of six years, the university countered with the proposed increase of about 22%, which is a $ 1 increase in the first year of the contract. New York City officials say graduate students earn more than their school counterparts. They noted that, for example, Harvard graduate students recently signed a contract that paid $ 17 an hour. “This strike should not have happened,” New York Speaker John on Beckman e-mailed. “The university has made lavish proposals to extend this contract.” The university president emailed the parents of NYU students this week, calling the strike “unfounded, untimely and painful.” The e-mail responded to a number of jokes on social media by some graduate students, many of them over the age of 30, whose parents had received it. (“If I’m right, I still can’t go to work,” Chloe Ons, a 26-year-old PhD student, tweeted.) NYU alumni organizers say the comparison to the Harvard contract is inappropriate because of the higher cost of living. New York. The NYU organizers determined their proposed salary using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s live wage calculator, given the constraints that graduate students can only work 20 hours a week. And while Columbia և Harvard graduate students have gone on strike in recent years to get their first trade union contracts, NYU graduate students are negotiating a second contract, the first of which was finalized in 2015, and therefore have more ambitious demands. (The Colombian strike, which began in March, ended as students voted on a contract that would increase student salaries by $ 20 over three years.) “The first treaty lays the foundation for future negotiations,” said William A. Herbert. , Executive Director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining of Higher Education and Specialties of “Hunter” College. “In the second agreement, the union is trying to expand their benefits. It is very common that the second contract is more demanding. ” The urgency of the union’s financial demands has increased due to the epidemic and the economic crisis, as the academic labor market has been squeezed by freezing rent. “They’re trying to harass us to get our paychecks down,” said Alice Garey, a trade union organizer in New York and a PhD candidate in Middle East Studies. “Finally, we now have thousands of graduates on the picket line.” Crowds gathered outside NYU on Friday, chanting as they listened to several City Council candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Who called for congratulations to the strikers. “If we respect education in this country, if we know how important it is for us to provide our young people with the best education in the world,” he said, “we need to have a well-paid faculty, respect and dignity.” Union և Collective bargaining among postgraduate students began decades in the public sector, which signed its first higher education contract in 1970 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But in private schools, the issue of whether graduate students should be treated as students or employees is more controversial. And NYU has been on the battlefield for a long time. The National Council on Labor Relations first recognized the right of postgraduate students to the right of collective bargaining in private universities in 2000. But the council, whose five members are appointed by the president, had a conservative majority under President George W. Bush. In a case at Brown University in 2004, the council overturned its decision, leaving private graduate unions unprotected federally. Since then, the Council has been hesitant on the subject as the White House changes its hands. Although Republicans still have a majority, at least by the end of the summer, the council said in March that it would repeal the proposed rule from the Trump era, once opening a private school graduate union. According to a study by the Hunter Center, there has been a significant increase in the total number of union students employed in the country, from 64,680 in 2013 to more than 83,000 in 2019. The question of whether graduate students should be classified as students or employees is now more relevant than ever, Herbert said, as the federal government discusses how to classify band members and the protection of their workplace. Many private university administrators have traditionally argued that the primary responsibility of graduate students was not labor but education. But NYU graduate students argue that there is no difference between their “academics” and that the university could not operate without their paid workforce. “When I do research, it benefits the university,” Gary said. “I attend conferences, organize seminars within my department, publish articles, publish translations. These are all things that faculty members do as part of their compensation. ” Reimbursement is not the only issue driving a wedge between New York University graduate organizers. The graduate students also asked the university to refrain from calling the New York Police Department, except when it is legally binding or when a violent crime has been committed. They do not want the police to be called in cases of vandalism, for example, because of the risk of people of color or other vulnerable students. The graduate students also made epidemic claims, including paying $ 500 to teaching assistants for their distance learning efforts. Virgilio Urbina Lazardi, 28, a fourth-year sociology doctoral student, planned to spend the spring of last year refining an academic journal. He had to slow down the project in order to double the hours spent by the teacher assistant. The professor he was assisting was struggling with Magnification, so Lazardi was assigned to visit the professor’s house to develop his technology. “That semester added a lot of stress, it fell on me disproportionately, without further compensation or recognition,” Lazardi said. This week, all the responsibilities for which the master students are being reimbursed have been terminated. Planning lessons, students’ e-mails. Some union organizers saw this as an opportunity to educate students about a broader struggle for student-employee rights. Arundhat Velamur, 33, who holds a doctorate in education, spent the semester teaching geometry. He opened his first lesson by discussing the satirical book Flatland of the 1800s about the Victorian social hierarchy, which imagines a fictional world inhabited by horses whose strength is determined by the number of their sides. a hexagon, for example, will be stronger than a square. Velamur returned to the text to explain why he was missing out on the strike, as in a hierarchy like New York’s “Flatland,” as Velamur puts it, he and his peers were fighting for more power. He emailed his students that he would not be able to teach until an agreement was reached, and smiled when he received their reply. His students spent time in the classroom supporting the union. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 New York Times Company:

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