As we close the book on spring semester 2023, we’ve made meaningful progress towards winning our union. Because of our increased pressure this semester, the NYU administration has agreed to enter a voluntary process so that we can verify our majority support through a union election, and we are continuing to meet with them in order to reach a fair and neutral agreement.. We have momentum, and we have to keep it up. Let us know when you’re around this summer to help.
At the beginning of this academic year, we were in a radically different position. Despite our majority support, the NYU administration was unwilling to recognize our union — just as they had been ever since 2020. What changed?
We all did. We all stopped waiting for the NYU administration to do the right thing, and demanded that they come to the table. A majority of contract faculty — over five hundred of us from across NYU schools — signed on to our petition demanding a fast fair process. We rallied and made sure President Hamilton could hear us all the way up on the 12th floor. We hung posters and spoke to our students.
They couldn’t ignore us: our presence, the basic fairness of our demands, the undeniable and consistent support of our students. We brought the pressure, and it brought them to the table: they agreed to a voluntary process, so we can avoid the drawn out, uncertain, lawyer-driven process of the NLRB.
Winning an agreement in principle to a voluntary process was a major step forward. But the administration’s initial proposal fell far short, with so many exceptions and carve-outs that only a few hundred contract faculty would have been able to vote in our election and get the benefits of collective bargaining. So we all came out again: we picketed in front of Bobst, we passed leaflets at Weekend at the Square, and we rallied with our union siblings in GSOC, UCATS, and up the street at the New School on May Day.
Now, we’re much closer. We still don’t have an agreement, but the past several months of negotiations have taught us a valuable lesson: turn out or lose out. We can win the union we need and bargain the contract we deserve, but to do so we all need to be prepared for important upcoming fights:
First, the administration wants to exclude contract faculty who take on extra administrative service that involves overseeing part-time colleagues. We know that this is crucial work that makes the university work — and also that whatever their titles, these contract faculty remain just that — contract faculty, with the same interests as other contract faculty. Indeed, taking a position like academic director or director of graduate studies often puts contract faculty in the line of fire, making the protections of a collectively bargained contract all the more important. We cannot accept a vision of the university in which people who coordinate programs do not have full academic freedom.
Second, the administration wants to carve out faculty in the Rory Meyers College of Nursing. The administration’s outside lawyer claims that’s because our Nursing colleagues don’t perform the same sort of work that the rest of the contract faculty do — but we know otherwise. After all, part-time Meyers faculty are in the adjunct union. Meyers contract faculty teach, research, and perform crucial service work. They deserve a union like the rest of us.
Even when we win these two fights, there will be other issues to resolve, but we know exactly what we have to do to fight and win. Keep up the momentum. Turn up. Make sure you tell us when you’re available this summer.