Volume 75, Number 23 | Oct. 26 - Nov. 01, 2005

N.Y.U. graduate teaching assistants vote to start their strike on Nov. 9

By Albert Amateau

New York University’s graduate teaching assistants will walk the picket line in front of Bobst Library on Nov. 9 when members of United Auto Workers Local 2110 strike to protest the university’s refusal to bargain with the union.

Eighty-five percent of union members who voted during the balloting period between Oct. 24 and midnight on Oct. 31 endorsed the strike, according to Maida Rosenstein, president of the local. She declined to specify the number of teaching assistants who voted, but said it was a majority of the members.

Although the union will not say where members would demonstrate, Rosenstein said, “You’ll likely find us in front of Bobst Library.” About 1,000 teaching assistants work at the university during a year, she noted.

N.Y.U. teaching assistants have been working without a contract since Aug. 31 when the old contract expired and the university formally announced it would not negotiate and would no longer recognize the union.

N.Y.U. had recognized Local 2110 as the bargaining agent for graduate teaching assistants in 2002 after a National Labor Relations Board ruling in 2000 held that teaching assistants were workers and had a right to union representation. But last year, a new N.L.R.B. decision reversed the ruling and said the university was not legally obliged to recognize the union.

In the summer, N.Y.U. said it would no longer recognize the union after Local 2110 rejected an offer of a new contract.

John Beckman, spokesperson for the university, said N.Y.U. would no longer negotiate. “At some point one has to stop trying to mend the past and turn to the future and that’s the point we’ve come to now,” he said.

The N.Y.U. Graduate Students Organizing Committee claims that more than 200 full-time and adjunct faculty members have asked the university for alternative classroom sites to avoid crossing picket lines.

But Beckman said classroom assignments are set and the university would not find alternative space. “It is N.Y.U.’s expectation that instructors will teach their classes in the appropriate places,” he said.

Nevertheless, Michael Palm, chairperson of the N.Y.U. unit of Local 2110, said the university could still avoid a strike. “It’s in their power to avert the strike and minimize the disruption by negotiating with us,” he said.

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