NYU strike starts with mass march
Published Nov 18, 2005 10:03 PM
Some 1,200 graduate
employees at New York University walked out on strike Nov. 9.
set up picket lines outside NYU’s Bobst Library, site of administration
offices, at 8 a.m.
The lines grew throughout the morning. By midday a
thousand people or more were marching as supporters from Yale, Rutgers and other
Picketers burst out of police barricades for an
impromptu march around Washington Square Park. Several undergraduate students
leaned out of an upper window in the Kimmel Center for Student Life and unfurled
a banner declaring solidarity with GSOC—the Graduate Student Organizing
Committee, UAW Local 2110. NYU security guards hustled the GSOC supporters
Over the next days, GSOC strikers and supporters picketed outside
key NYU classroom and administrative buildings. On Nov. 14, an early-afternoon
strike march snaked around the Greenwich Village campus.
It was a strong
start to what most expect to be a tough struggle.
NYU is the biggest
private university in the country. Three years ago, when it was forced to sign a
contract with GSOC, NYU graduate employees became the first at a private
university to win full union rights. Now NYU is acting on behalf of all the
private universities—especially the big-money schools like Yale, Columbia,
and others—in its all-out union-busting war against graduate
In summer 2004, the National Labor Relations Board reversed an
earlier decision and ruled that teaching assistants, research assistants and
other graduate students who are paid for their labor are somehow not workers and
therefore are not entitled to collective-bargaining rights. NYU seized on the
ruling. When GSOC’s first contract expired on Aug. 31, the university
withdrew recognition and refused to enter negotiations for a new
NYU’s public-relations office is churning out spin
insisting that the strike is having no effect. That is clearly not true. The
campus is much emptier than usual. Hundreds of teachers have moved their classes
off campus as the union requested. Undergraduates, faculty members and other
university employees wear pro-GSOC armbands to show support.
On the second
day of the strike, faculty members discovered that top NYU management had
infiltrated their classes’ internal e-mail discussion lists. Many
professors who had taken a neutral stance now crossed over to the
strikers’ side, outraged at what they consider a breach of academic
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