Last week, two dozen of us met with the NYU administration’s lawyers to discuss a fair process to verify that a majority of contract faculty support our union. We were eager to hear more about their proposal, but as the meeting went on, we found ourselves struggling to understand the substance of what they were actually proposing. They seemed largely unaware of the way our jobs are structured, and unable to answer basic questions about their reasoning. More troubling, they still couldn’t tell us how many contract faculty they thought should be included in our bargaining unit.
We need a union because we are the only people who understand both the complexity of our work across different schools, and the many things we have in common, despite our strange and inconsistent titles. Our work makes the university work, and our institutional knowledge makes our work extremely valuable.
The lawyers seemed to agree. At the end of the meeting, they gave us a homework assignment: could we find out how our titles were structured across schools and share what we’d learned? The request was odd, given that they have access to our employment data, and we do not. Greater transparency is another important reason we’ve come together to form a union: when our grad and adjunct colleagues renegotiate their collective bargaining agreements, the NYU administration is required by law to disclose this data, so both parties have equal access to information. Until we win recognition for our union, we won’t have those legal rights or protections.
We’re all glad that the NYU administration has agreed to work out a voluntary process, to avoid the lengthy process of filing for an election through the National Labor Relations Board. However, we can’t accept a proposal that neither we nor they understand, and we can’t take on additional uncompensated administrative work to cover their lack of preparation. We do enough service as it is.
The administration’s lawyers already have all the information they need to agree to our core demand: a fast, fair, and neutral process that will allow all contract faculty to vote in a union election. Neither we nor they need to prepare complex legal arguments about how our union should look, because we’re not doing this in an NLRB hearing. We’ve agreed to work this out among ourselves, as members of the same academic community, charged with upholding the same educational mission. If the administration isn’t engaging in good faith, we can appeal directly to the NYU community.
On that note, please mark your calendars: April 15-16 is Weekend on the Square, and the class of 2027 and their parents will be visiting campus to be welcomed by NYU leadership. If we haven’t made significant progress, we will take the opportunity to continue educating our community and our bosses about the important work we do.