Strike promises victory at the New School

New School student workers, members of SENS-UAW Local 7902 in New York City, hold a practice picket building up to a strike that took place March 6-8.

Friday, March 8, was day three of the latest strike at the New School University, and the picket line looked downright professional — the signs stated clear demands, percussion kept up the beat, and the chanting was loud, in unison and very determined. Well, it should look professional, because this was the second strike of New School workers in less than two years! 

The first strike was for union recognition — of union Adjuncts Come Together-United Auto Workers (ACT-UAW) Local 7902, adjuncts, part-time faculty, student workers and health service employees. It lasted 25 days. This time the fight was by Student Employees at the New School-UAW (SENS-UAW), )academic student workers, one of four units belonging to ACT-UAW, for a decent contract after negotiations had dragged on for seven months.

But after day three the union members appear to have reached an inspiring victory. The union and the administration have announced a Tentative Agreement that includes “across the board raises of between 24% and 31% for all academic student workers and 80% health care coverage for all graduate workers.” (Academic Student Workers press release, March 9)

The press release further points out that the Tentative Agreement includes some impressive firsts, “such as the first codification in a labor agreement in the United States of protections for trans and reproductive rights.” And, in a first for the New School, the administration has agreed to the “first ever childcare fund for the benefit of all parents and families in the university community.” 

At the beginning of the unionization campaign, “the university was far behind in standards for graduate worker employment compared to similar institutions of higher education, and this agreement goes a long way towards making these workers whole.”

ACT-UAW Local 7902, which represents over 5,000 part-time and adjunct teachers, student educators — including tutors, teaching assistants and fellows, research associates and assistants, course assistants and health care workers at the New School and nearby New York University, has no intention of resting on its laurels. It plans to continue organizing other units of students.

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