Messages to the Community

Graduate Student Union Contract Update

To The New School Community,

We want to update you on progress toward a first collective bargaining agreement with SENS-UAW, the union representing approximately 850 student workers at The New School. These include Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Research Assistants, Course Assistants and Tutors. You can learn more about this unit and the university’s long-standing partnerships with eight other labor unions on campushere.

The New School began contract negotiations with SENS-UAW in September, shortly after the union was certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Since that time, representatives from the university have been regularly meeting with their counterparts from SENS-UAW. Progress to-date has been well ahead of what has been the case in many other negotiations. NYU, the only other private university with a graduate student union contract in place, took more than 18 months to finalize an agreement. Working together, union representatives and New School staff have been able to reach consensus on a number of areas and are working hard to address other important concerns to our academic student workers, such as the need to ensure on-time wage payments in addition to enhanced wages and other benefits.

Negotiating a collective bargaining agreement is a complex process. This is especially true in the case of a first-time agreement, and even more so in the relatively uncharted territory of a unionized workforce made up of students at a private university. There are major considerations and decisions involved that need to be thought through carefully from a range of perspectives as they will impact other parts of the University community as well as generations of students to come. We take this responsibility very seriously.

We remain committed to the process of negotiation and are working with the goal of creating a strong, fair, and successful contract. We will to hold true to these values regardless of what other universities may choose to do or the shifting composition of the NLRB.

In the current phase of negotiations, you may notice posters or various public demonstrations around our campus. These expressions by SENS-UAW focus attention on the process we are engaged in and promote specific union demands. We respect the union’s right to be visible and vocal and acknowledge that SENS-UAW has respected campus guidelines that are in place to ensure that teaching, learning and services to faculty and students are always our most important priority.

We firmly believe that both sides in this negotiation process share a sense of responsibility to the academic mission of The New School and to all students who choose to pursue their education here.

We look forward to continued progress on a new contract.

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