•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

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.

Strikers 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 universities arrived.

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 away.

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 workers.

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 contract.

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 freedom.