An Update on Negotiations with ACT-UAW Local 7902
A Message from Dr. Dwight A, McBride, President and University Professor; Dr. Renée T. White, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Tokumbo Shobowale, Executive Vice President for Business and Operations
To The New School Community,
We are still in mediation with ACT-UAW Local 7902, and want to update you on where things stand. We also want to share important developments that are happening this week.
The bargaining teams for The New School and the union are continuing to meet regularly on a new agreement. The intensive schedule has included a mediation session that started at noon on Monday and went into the early hours of this morning, and a late morning session today.
The university is doing everything it can to meet the union’s priorities responsibly. While many aspects of mediation are confidential, we can share that both parties continue to have productive dialogue around several new concepts designed to resolve some of the outstanding issues that exist between the parties. Discussions on these concepts will continue at the next scheduled mediation on Wednesday, December 7 at 5pm.
We will ensure students complete the Fall semester and receive their grades. Tomorrow, we will share our plans to ensure students receive grades in an educationally responsible manner. We are doing this so that our students can continue to make progress in their academic studies and are not at risk of losing their financial aid eligibility, visa status, or ability to graduate. While the union claims there is “no precedent” for taking these steps, this is counter to what the university has uncovered in its due diligence and consultation with our accrediting bodies. Grading policies and eligibility conditions are based upon accreditation standards which must conform with federal requirements. The university is not willing to risk students’ grading security under any circumstances.
As detailed yesterday, we have made the difficult decision to stop paying wages and premiums for healthcare benefits for employees who are striking. This includes university contributions toward health insurance and retirement benefits. Up to this point, we have continued to compensate our faculty and staff who have chosen to exercise their right to strike. But as we enter the fourth week of disruptions, we must use our resources carefully to ensure that our students’ academic needs are met. We have been extremely reluctant to take this action and we understand that it will cause frustration in the community. Unfortunately, the union’s continued strike action and lack of urgency at the bargaining table over the past few weeks have brought us to this position. We continue to hope part-time faculty will return to the work we are all passionate about — educating our students — but only the union has the power to make that decision. Until then, we cannot continue to pay wages for individuals who are not working.
We are planning for the Spring semester. None of us wants to consider a Spring semester without our part-time faculty. At the same time, we have a duty to move forward with contingency planning to ensure we can deliver for our students if we are unable to reach agreement with the union by next year. Again, these are not actions we take lightly, and we know they will cause anger and frustration, but the actions of union leadership at the bargaining table leave us with no choice but to plan responsibly and proactively. Whatever comes to pass, our students will receive a robust academic offering in Spring.
We understand this is a hard message to hear at this difficult moment for our community, but we remain optimistic that the mediation process will continue to help the university and the union find the common ground required to reach an agreement as soon as possible.