We brought five new proposals today, all dealing with issues related to supporting student-workers as whole people. We delivered an opening statement illustrating the links between our well-being proposals and our success as teachers, researchers, students, and community members.
Members with children delivered testimonies speaking to the lack of support at The New School for parents and other caregivers and the need for a new holistic vision of what it means to be a student and student worker at the New School.
We proposed a major compromise with the University, offering to retract paragraph A of our No-Strike/No-Lockout proposal if the University agrees to drop their attack on our rights to third-party arbitration in cases of grievance and harassment and agrees to our anti-bullying article. We are serious about reaching an agreement as soon as possible.
The University brought only a single counter-offer to our proposal on ASW rights and responsibilities, rejecting our proposal to allow ASWs to transition classes online in cases of government recognized dangerous weather. This on a day in which we tried to communicate to the University how pervasive feelings of neglect for our wellbeing are amongst students and academic student workers.
The University responded to our request for justification for their stance on third-party grievance and arbitration by denying that the stance they publicly communicated by email and social media was in fact their bargaining stance. This is dishonest and is nothing more than a legalistic means to hide the fact that they know that there is in fact no legal justification to back up their social media claims that our current CBA conflicts with Department of Education Title IX rules. How can the University expect anyone in the community to trust them when their public communications do not match their official bargaining positions?
Members who are parents delivered moving testimony on the challenges faced by academic student workers with childcare responsibilities. We proposed that the University establish a $90,00 fund set aside for childcare expenses that can be accessed by ASWs at a rate of $5,000 per semester.
Paid Safe and Sick Time Off, Paid Family Leave and Other Leaves of Absence
We presented an expanded comprehensive counter-offer on leaves of absence that extends the available paid time off and leave periods, increases eligibility for paid time off and leaves of absence for our members, expands the range of situations for which paid leave is available. Up to this point, the New School has offered the bare minimum legal leave policy, which has severe consequences for our members and their families.
Employee Discounts and Commuter Benefits
We proposed that the University 1) cover unlimited monthly MetroCards for our members in recognition of our commuting expenses, and 2) establish a Section 125 Commuter Pre-Tax plan, at no cost to the University, that would allow our members to elect to pre-tax deduct commuting expenses (such as CitiBike, PATH, LIRR, and other transit expenses).
Reproductive and Gender Affirming Care
The University recently promised to provide free access to medical abortion in addition to several other sexual and reproductive health. Our proposal enshrines this promise in our contract. Further, we have proposed that the University commit to covering gender affirming and reproductive care expenses for student workers if, due to political attacks on gender and sexual rights, these services are no longer covered by insurance.
Mental Health and Counseling Access
We proposed a new article on Mental health in consultation with our friends at SHS. On our proposal ASWs will have access to 12 (this is a return to past policy before sessions were cut to 10), in person psychodynamic, counseling sessions with SHS counselors during any academic year, and in some cases an additional 5 sessions. We want to make sure that members have access to real, in-person, care – not app or chatbot based substitutes.