As we hurtle toward the end of the semester, and the country roils with grief and anger over more racist police murders, your minds are likely preoccupied with many things. Ours too — we just want to give a brief update about the state of your Union: Student Employees at the New School (SENS-UAW), as we continue our struggle for recognition by the administration.
As the first week of hearings at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now over, we continue to be disappointed that the TNS Administration has not agreed to a voluntary process to respect our majority choice and recognize our Union, as happened at NYU in 2013. As the semester is running out, it is important that we keep up the pressure on their decision on this important issue!
In the NLRB hearings, both sides presented their opening statements, and the arguments are basically the following.Our SENS-UAW lawyers maintain that we are workers and as such have the right to collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This position challenges the NLRB ruling on Brown University in 2004, which says students at private universities are not workers covered by the NLRA. Our lawyers also represent Columbia student workers who are fighting for union recognition; the broad position is that Brown should be overturned, and that just as in many public universities, graduate student workers like us should have the right to organize unions and bargain together.
The lawyers representing the New School Administration argue that students doing teaching and research work are the beneficiaries of “financial aid” — not wages. They argue that the our jobs are the equivalent of the stipends and scholarships offered to students at universities with more money, and that we are not employees, therefore, have no right to organize and engage in collective bargaining.
We’re hoping that you can do one of three things to help.
- If you haven’t already, talk to other students in your department about getting support from faculty. Although TNS Administration seems to be willing to keep paying expensive lawyers to stop us gaining recognition through the NLRB, we still hope that the administration will do the right thing and recognize us voluntarily, as the NYU administration did.
- We need to show that we are workers, that our jobs are not just financial aid for teaching and research training. If you’d be willing to say so in a hearing at the NLRB, please get in touch with us ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need stories about working at the New School to illustrate why we need a union and a collective agreement. Please share your thoughts and stories by using the comment box at this link. Your responses will be kept confidential unless you say otherwise, though we do ask you to please include your contact information so we can verify who you are and follow up with any questions.