Volume 75, Number 16 | September 07 - 13, 2005

Villager photos by Ramin Talaie

John Sweeney, head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., right, led the civil disobedience protest, as State Senator Tom Duane, behind Sweeney to his left, joined in, also ready to be arrested. Below, actress Morgan Fairchild spoke in support of the graduate students union.

76 arrested in N.Y.U. graduate union protest

A demonstration in front of New York University’s Bobst Library on Aug. 31, the last day of the university’s contract with United Auto Workers Local 2110 representing graduate student assistants, ended with 76 protesters being charged with obstructing access to the library.

The protesters, who were among a group of several hundred protesting the university’s refusal to continue recognizing the union as representing the graduate assistants, were not actually jailed but were removed from the front of the library and issued desk-appearance tickets.

John Sweeney, A.F.L.-C.I.O. president, and other top union officials were among the protestors who had notified police that they would engage in a civil disobedience action. State Senator Tom Duane also participated in the protest action and was arrested. Other officials at the protest included Councilmembers Christine Quinn, Gifford Miller, Gale Brewer, Bill de Blasio and Robert Jackson and State Senator Jose Serrano.

Following the National Labor Relations Board’s reversal last summer of a 2002 ruling that grad student instructors be recognized as workers who could negotiate as a collective bargaining unit, N.Y.U. decided not to renew the union contract it signed three years ago.

The university gave graduate assistants a last offer on Aug. 2 that would allow them to continue negotiating economic issues and maintain benefits of the now-expired contract but would not accept U.A.W. filings of grievances or contesting of academic appointments. The graduate teaching assistants are expected to go on strike. N.Y.U. says it has contingency plans, but has not provided details.

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