Disseminated by Anarchist Friends of NYU Grad. Workers:

Dear NYU Student –

By now many of you are aware that the United Auto Workers is publicly
discussing a job action involving graduate assistants (GAs) at NYU in
the near
future.

In our opinion, the Auto Workers union is embarking on a regrettable
and
unfortunate course: regrettable because it fails to respect the
significance
of your efforts to pursue your education, and unfortunate because such
an
action will not result in recognition of the UAW to represent our
graduate
assistants.

We understand that the possibility of a job action is the last thing
you need
at this point in the school year. We want to reassure you that the
University
will maintain your academic progress.

Because you, as students, are the ones who will directly experience the
impact
of the union’s actions, it is important that you understand how we
arrived at
this point. Between 2001 and August 2005, we had a contract with the
UAW; they
promised not to interfere with academic decision-making, but they did
not keep
their word.

The National Labor Relations Board has made clear that there is no
legal
obligation for NYU to recognize a GA union. No private university in
the
country now has unionized graduate assistants, and neither do 80
percent of
public research universities.

Yet NYU, in spite of the UAW’s challenging history in representing our
graduate
assistants, once again went further than any other private university:
we began
conversations with the United Auto Workers this past May, and in August
these
conversations culminated in a proposal to the UAW to be the bargaining
representatives of graduate assistants on economic (stipends, benefits,
and
terms), rather than academic, issues.

Unfortunately, the UAW rejected our offer unequivocally. We went as
far as
possible to achieve a compromise where there could be a GA union
without
sacrificing important academic principles, but we were unwilling to
have
graduate students lose their financial aid packages if they chose not
to join
the union, and we were unwilling to permit the union to interfere with
academic
decision-making. The union was unwilling to give up on these items.
We
believe this was a significant mistake on the union’s part, but we have
moved
forward.

We value all our students deeply. NYU’s graduate assistants are among
the best
supported in the country: with stipends, health benefits, and tuition
remission, the standard financial aid package received by a doctoral
student as
a GA is valued in excess of $50,000 per year. Equally important, we
have
pledged to continue supporting our graduate students in the future.

The United Auto Workers union has been publicly discussing the
prospects of
engaging in a job action for quite some time; accordingly, the
University has
been planning for this possibility. Regardless of whether or not some
GAs
strike, the University will remain open, and you should plan on
attending your
classes and participating in your regularly scheduled activities. We
have been
faculty members and administrators at NYU for decades, and we believe
that our
faculty colleagues, recognizing the professional responsibility that
accompanies the trust you have placed in NYU to educate you, will hold
classes,
and ensure your academic progress.

If there is a disruption, you will promptly hear from your school’s
dean, who
will provide you with further information and give you contact
information
should you have any concerns or questions.

We cannot promise you there will be no disruptions, but we are working
hard to
ensure that they are minimal. We believe that a large majority of GAs
will
continue to fulfill their teaching responsibilities. The University
and its
deans, faculty, and administrators will do whatever is necessary to
guarantee
that your hard work this semester is not put at risk, that your
academic
program and course work will be completed, and that those of you who
are
scheduled to graduate will do so.

Sincerely,



John Sexton David McLaughlin
President Provost