In 11th hour, NYU averts grad student strike during midterms

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Following year-long negotiations between New York University and the school’s graduate student union, both parties have come to an agreement at the 11th hour, successfully averting a strike that would have come in the midst of midterm exams, officials said.

“NYU is very pleased to have reached agreement on a tentative contract with the UAW, which represents unionized graduate student workers,” NYU spokesman John Beckman told PIX11 News.

Students received an email from the CAS Dean Gabrielle Starr at 10 a.m. Tuesday telling them to go to class as usual. At noon, NYU Provost David McLaughlin sent another university-wide email saying “though a prolonged and at times difficult negotiation, both sides expressed the same goal: achieving a fair contract. And that was the outcome.”

The union GSOC – UAW Local 2110  wrote before negotiations that the university has “refused to offer pay raises and health coverage for grad students” at “one of the most expensive university on earth” while some students work for “as little as $10 an hour.”

The union demanded “affordable, high-quality healthcare” for themselves and their families, expanded family benefits including child-care and family leave, and “fair total compensation and strong workplace and union rights.”

If their demands were not met, they planned to picket from Tuesday to Friday on NYU’s campuses in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Many midterms and assignments were rescheduled preemptively while other students were forced to wait and see whether professors would hold classes that would include information vital to their exams. If the strike went on, many students would be out of classes for nearly two weeks because of spring break next week.

Scott Sommer, a spokesman for the union, says some NYU-Poly workers’ minimum wage will go up 50% to $15 an hour, and now 50% of NYU workers will be provided healthcare. The new contract also includes dental benefits, childcare and various waived university fees. The contract will expire in 2020.

An email sent to NYU students from Provost David McLaughlin this week outlined the other side of the story. The provost described a “generous offer” from the university that would “make a strike regrettable and unnecessary.”

“If ever there was an instance where a strike was misguided, this is it … We have made a generous offer, and we remain committed to bargaining. We cannot, however, agree to an unreasonable settlement that our university cannot afford,” he wrote.

The offers for “fully-funded graduate students who teach” included free tuition, payment of healthcare premiums, and minimum stipends of $26,200 that increased with each year of the contract. McLaughlin also wrote that in December 2013, the university recognized the student union which “no other private university in the country has done.”

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