On Monday, August 7th, the SENS-UAW Bargaining Committee (BC) had our second meeting with the University. We continued discussions of ground rules for bargaining, presented our first set of proposals to The New School, and reached a tentative agreement on Article XIII, on Personnel Files.
The session opened with a bizarre conflict over the University’s previous offer to open bargaining to the New School Community. We requested that a standard Zoom link be shared that would allow members of the community to join, see and be seen, and chat with each other. The University, apparently intimidated by the prospect of seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those they are bargaining against, insisted that any conferencing link be controlled by them and shared in the view-only webinar format. We spent two hours discussing this point with the university’s team (racking up nearly $2500 in billable hours for Akerman LLP), all the while, our remote BC members were stranded in a Zoom waiting room. They were never allowed in.
To be clear, the BC adamantly rejects The New School having unilateral control over the remote bargaining process. Today’s bargaining session was held without the members of our elected BC who needed to join remotely due to childcare responsibilities, disabilities that prevent them from traveling to campus, travel abroad, or unrelated work obligations. It was flagrantly disrespectful of the time and energy we put into negotiating a strong union contract for our members.
For the safety of our international members, we do not consent to the distribution of bargaining session recordings to the wider public. Public records of union activity put international students at risk of retaliation from their national governments.
SENS BC Proposals, August 7, 2023
The BC presented the following proposals as a sign that our union is negotiating in good faith, despite the university’s claims to the contrary. The university’s team made it clear today that even though our BC presented five distinct proposals, they do not intend respond until they have received our full package. This will inevitably delay the bargaining process.
Read the full proposals our BC presented here. Summaries of each are provided below.
Article II: Bargaining Unit Information
Our organizers depend on the University for information about our membership – who they are, how we can reach them, and what jobs they hold. Currently, the University gives us inaccurate, incomplete, and late member lists. We are proposing that the University catch up to the industry standard set by Harvard University so we can operate our union effectively and best support our members.
Article VI: Meeting Space
In order to best facilitate rank and file democracy within our union, we are proposing that the union should be allowed to book space on campus in the same manner as all other campus organizations and departments, whenever we need to hold meetings too large to be hosted in the union’s office space.
Article XXV: Union Leave
Union Leave refers to the money that is set aside by the University to pay for the work that our elected unit chair and union representatives do enforcing our contract, handling grievances, organizing, and more. The current funding does not support the amount of hours our reps work each week. We are proposing that the union leave fund be increased from $52,500 to $81,000 with a 3% increase each year and that hours worked by all representatives count toward receipt of healthcare and any other work benefits.
Article XXVII: Discipline and Discharge
We propose adding a provision we’ve designed to protect international students on visas by requiring the University and Union to expedite any discipline related grievance process to ensure it is completed before the ASW experiences any negative visa/immigration consequences.
Article XXXI: No Strike, No Lockout
No Strike, No Lockout is a clause common to almost all post-war U.S. collective bargaining agreements. The clause represents an exchange between union and employer: during the life of a contract, the union gives up its right to strike and the employer gives up its right to lockout workers (refuse to allow workers to work and to hire scabs in their place) for the right to make use of the grievance and arbitration procedure.
Our current No Strike, No Lockout clause forces us to forfeit our right to refuse to cross legitimate picket lines in addition to forfeiting our right to strike over grievable workplace issues. Our proposal restricts the union’s concession – we will forfeit our right to strike only over issues that we receive the right to grieve in return, and we do not forfeit our right to refuse to cross pickets. This is key to preserving our union’s strength, protecting our members rights, and building solidarity amongst all workers across our campus.
Our BC is still finalizing future bargaining sessions with the university’s team. We hope our remote bargaining committee members, as well as our entire New School community, will be allowed to join.