Volume 76, Number 16 | September 6 - 12, 2006

Back to School

Villager photo by Gary He

An N.Y.U. graduate student being arrested at a protest last spring

N.Y.U.’s graduate students will keep pushing for union contract

By David Spett

Members of the New York University graduate students’ labor movement want the public to know that despite recent setbacks, they’re not going away.

“Even though we’re not on strike right away, there still is a lot of pressure on [N.Y.U.], and we are going to continue to grow and become stronger as an organization,” said Susan Valentine, a history teaching assistant and spokesperson for the movement.

Because of high turnover among the graduate students, the group needs to vote again if it wants to restart a labor action, Valentine said.

“Those are decisions that need to be made collectively, so we need to get in touch with everybody to do that,” she said, adding that the union will be spending the next few weeks leafleting on the street since the school year has just begun.

The university continues its refusal to recognize the union, and has refused to negotiate or to issue a contract, Valentine said.

This fall, the teaching assistants returned to find their health benefits cut for the second year in a row, Valentine said.

“Not only are we not consulted on changes, but we’re not even informed of changes,” she said. “We sort of independently find out these things for ourselves.”

“We think we can keep the pressure up on N.Y.U.,” Valentine said. “The need to get a second contract is no less urgent.”

John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesperson, said he doesn’t believe the graduate students are correct about their health insurance.

“I think the health benefits were improved this year,” Beckman said. “The pharmacy coverage went up to the maximum allowable [level].”

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