Tell NYU to do the Right Thing


Open Letter Urging NYU to Respect Graduate Employees’ Democratic Choice

Graduate employees help make NYU a world-leading university. Working with faculty and other staff, graduate employees provide quality education to thousands of undergraduates and perform cutting-edge research projects that sustain innovation while generating lucrative grant dollars.

When the law required NYU to respect the right to collective bargaining, a majority of graduate employees chose GSOC/UAW and bargained improvements to pay, benefits and rights in a 202 contract that graduate employees and NYU both hailed as a landmark agreement. In 2005, however, the NYU administration took advantage of weakened laws to deny this right and refused to bargain a second contract.

Despite NYU using every possible tactic to deny the democratic right to choose a union since then, a majority of NYU graduate employees have repeatedly asserted support for representation by GSOC/UAW, and now SET/UAW at NYU-Poly, and continue to seek justice and respect.

With the likely restoration of graduate employees’ legal right to collective bargaining, we, the undersigned, urge the NYU administration to publicly commit to respecting union and democratic rights for graduate employees by publicly agreeing to the following:

  • NYU will refrain from further legal or other actions that would delay graduate employees’ exercising their right to choose representation by the UAW.
  • NYU will ensure a free and fair election process for voting on UAW representation during which NYU does not in any way attempt to influence graduate employees to vote yes or no, and
  • NYU will immediately commence bargaining in good faith for a contract upon certification of a majority vote by graduate employees for UAW representation.


  1. Go get them grad students! You deserve a fair contract and living wage. Student workers should not be abused by universities that employ them.

  2. Hope the necessary assistance provides the necessary help to all of you; Especially during the holiday season.
    Over and Out!

  3. All workers should have the right to organize and be represented by a Union. This is what created the American middle class in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The erosion of Union membership is directly related to the growing income inequality in our society which is threatening our economy. As an NYU alumnus, I am extremely disappointed that the University wants to deny its students the right to organize and wants to do business on the cheap.

  4. There was a time when NYU Law School Professors would have advised the University to recognize and bargain with the Union. Those times seem to be in the past. Good luck. Member of NYU Law Class of 1972

  5. Remembering my own days as a graduate worker at another institution, I understand your grievances and fully support your rights to organize, negotiate, and improve your compensation and terms of employment. Shame on NYU !

  6. I was happy my son was represented by CWA 1104 when he was at SUNY Upstate. I hope the grad students have the same opportunity for better pay and working conditions.

  7. Graduate assistants are workers .. Labor rights are human rights. Defend their right to freely associate in a union for their mutual benefit. NYU, back off !!

  8. Graduate employees do skilled work – – teaching and research – – and have been exploited for too long. We looked into organizing a union for graduate employees in a department at the University of Georgia when I was a teaching assistant there in the late 70s, but decided it wasn’t feasible at that time. Best wishes for success with NYU.

  9. Graduate students should be allowed to organize like any other group of workers. NYU has dragged this struggle out for years. We support you, the graduate students and offer our solidarity.

  10. Bravo, grads. Also, thanks because so many of us appreciate that when you fight for your right to organize, you are fighting for the rights of every employee in the country. Thank you and keep up your good work. With efforts like yours, maybe the USA’s middle class has a chance to survive and thereby, our country’s future prosperity.

  11. As a former teaching fellow, I had to teach as many as 5 courses in a semester, besides doing administrative work for the department. If I were still there, I would be standing with you!

  12. Corporate America has accomplished what it desired, the elimination of the pension. NEXT the eliminaton of unions and their fight for a living wage. Right to work states are states that one has the right to work for less. We are not only talking about your weekly wages but also health benefits for you and your family. Help with college expenses. You didnt educate yourself to work for less ,did you? FIGHT LIKE HELL….YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT.

  13. I was in the TAA, the graduate assistants union at the University of Wisconsin, which provided health care and spouse benefits that were life- and money-saving for me and my husband. I graduated and moved to NY right before the 2010 protests in Wisconsin but was very proud of my fellow TAA members, friends, and classmates who protested against Scott Walker’s union-busting legislation at the state capitol in Madison. I was also proud to be part of the UUP union in a state that cares about its workers and collective bargaining rights. I would expect support NYU graduate assistants’ rights. We can’t let New York go the way of Wisconsin.

  14. In the 1970’s I worked for Pan Am in a non union department. We signed cards and joined the Teamsters. All of our benefits improved and we finally had protection from the abusers in management. Don’t give up, keep fighting.

  15. Don’t give up and stay strong. Management will keep trying to resist to try and break your will! Stand together and you shall WIN!

  16. I worked as an adjunct at NYU during the struggle for the first agreement. NYU, like most large universities, could not function without the underpaid work of graduate students and adjuncts. NYU must respect their rights to choose union representation and must negociate with them in good faith.

  17. I remember supporting the organization of grad students at U of Wisconsin in the 60’s when I was an undergrad. They were successful & negotiated a contract. years later the law was changed & the admin refused recognition. The grad union stayed together, stayed strong & lobbied for change. The law changed again and the union was there to again negotiate a contract. Now, the laws in Wisconsin have been reversed again and I suppose the grads union is again on the outside looking in. Ain’t that the history of the labor movement in this country. Never give up and never give in. The unions in Michigan were right to try to put collective bargaining in the state constitution. They should keep trying until they win. we need it here in NY, too, and someday in the US Constitution. Never give up!

  18. Workers rights are Human rights. I always thought that NYU would be an institution of progressive ideas and not just pay lip service to them.

  19. I am dismayed by the move to limit labor negotiations by the most powerless groups. All workers suffer when a group is targeted for denial of their rights. Best of luck to you in your struggle.

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