Negotiations Begin with SENS-UAW Local 7902, Academic Student Workers Union
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Today, the university met for the first time with the bargaining team from SENS-UAW Local 7902, who represent our Academic Student Workers, to begin negotiations toward a new contract. As part of our commitment to reaching a fair and equitable agreement before the expiration of the current contract on August 31, the university presented a comprehensive initial package of economic and non-economic proposals that would total $46 million over the life of the six year contract—an estimated 20% increase in the total package value compared with the previous contract.
This is an unusual approach for two reasons. First, non-economic issues are typically resolved before economic issues are discussed and, second, the union usually presents its economic demands before the university makes an economic offer. The university felt that entering negotiations with a competitive offer ready to discuss would not only accelerate discussions but would demonstrate our deep respect for our Academic Student Workers and the contributions they make to our community. We hope our expression of good faith and willingness to enter into an agreement quickly will be well received by the union.
Economic and non-economic improvements in the university’s proposal include:
- A wage increase of 29% over 6 years—similar to the percentage agreed upon for part-time faculty.
- Pay for necessary training for extended professional development and to support the classroom experience.
- Competitive health insurance options, including increased health care rebates ranging between 55-70% and support for mental health needs through the university’s employee assistance program.
- Subsidized paid family leave premiums of 50% and paid family leave to help progress their continuing studies.
We believe this is a strong and competitive opening offer, with significant enhancements and new benefits. The university is putting this forth in order to hear from the union and gather their input on what matters most to our Academic Student Workers.
As highly valued and respected members of our community, we deeply appreciate the work they do to advance teaching, learning, and scholarship at the university. We also recognize that Academic Student Workers have different needs than other employee groups and a distinct relationship to the university as paid workers who are also our students. Their exposure to professional opportunities at The New School offers an avenue to develop skills and enhance their studies while being compensated; this is one of the ways we support our students’ success and honor our commitment to advancing their academic progress. As we negotiate, we want to balance our support of them as students with recognizing that all employees should be treated with acknowledgement of, and respect for, the importance of their work. The university remains focused on reaching an agreement that supports the advancement of all of our students and benefits The New School community as a whole.
We hope to move quickly, and with respect for each other and the bargaining process to ensure that we can make best use of the time we have. While the university shared that it was ready to begin bargaining on June 1, today was the first day the union offered to meet—leaving only six weeks to negotiate towards a new agreement. In addition, the union sent an extensive information request on July 12 which the university is doing its utmost to fulfill.
The first date the union has offered to meet again is August 7. We hope we can meet before then, and the university remains ready and available to do so at any time. We look forward to the union’s response to our proposal so we can make progress towards an agreement.
We are committed to remaining transparent throughout the process and will share updates on our Union Negotiations page. You can also stay updated by signing up for email updates here and by following @knowournewschool on Twitter and Instagram.