We brought four new proposals, dealing with compensation, international student issues, job security, and expense reimbursement. We are extremely proud of these articles that, if adopted, would significantly improve living, working, and studying conditions for our members! Read about them below.
Both the Union and the University have finally signed ground-rules that allow for full University remote attendance at bargaining. Starting at our next session, everyone at TNS can observe bargaining.
We brought counter offers to two responses the University had given on prior proposals dealing with the space provided to the union for our business and ASWs rights to protect themselves and their students in cases of dangerous weather.
The University countered the compromise we offered at the last session with an offensively poor offer that continues to deny ASWs the protection of third party arbitration in cases of discrimination and harassment. On their offer, ASWs who are themselves accused of discrimination and harassment and are punished will retain the right to grieve the legitimacy of their punishment. Our primary concern is with the discrimination and harassment we face and we maintain the position that the only real protection we have as workers derives from our contract, which must continue to recognize our right to a third-party arbitration process not controlled by TNS. It is shocking that TNS continues to push a discredited position on this issue that peer institutions, with no public commitments to social justice, have distanced themselves from in shame.
Illustrating the connected issues behind our Anti-Bullying proposal and stance on discrimination and harassment protections, a member gave testimony regarding a bullying case that was egregiously mishandled by the same University offices the University claims can better protect our members against discrimination and harassment than the third-party arbitration process.
The University countered our proposal on Bargaining Unit Information, the article that governs what information the university is required to provide to the union so that we can identify and contact our members, with a destructive proposed article that would require each individual ASW to sign a privacy waiver before the University shares basic employment information with the union. This is transparently designed to weaken our capacity to advocate for our members and is an egregious attack on workplace democracy.
On our proposal, ASWs would receive an immediate 40% raise across all categories, retroactively applied for the 2023-24 academic year. This would be followed by 13.5% raises over the next two years. On our proposal Course Assistants, the lowest paid workers in the unit, will be immediately brought up to the same hourly wage rate as tutors, and their job descriptions have been clarified so as to exclude grading, which we understand to be work done by TAs, not CAs.
For ASWs tasked with course development, we proposed a $2000 course development fee, designed to compensate for the many hours of work we do before the first pay period of a semester in which we are teaching a newly designed or revised course. This is comparable to the course development compensation won by PTF in their recent contract and reflects the estimated 30-60 hours of work that goes into developing a high quality new course.
On our proposal, ASWs who receive fellowships or scholarships cannot have their wages deducted from these scholarships, but must be paid directly on top of their scholarships. This is designed to remove the poisonous incentives that lead the students who already receive the most support to be given the most highly compensated and competitive positions at the expense of students without support who need those jobs. It’s a win-win – ASWs on fellowships take home their entire fellowship and any wage they earn and ASWs without stand a better chance of being hired into TF and TA positions.
Those raise percentages sound high, but that’s because our current wage rates as so incredibly low. Under our current contract, ASW’s who hold 1 TA and 1 TF position over the spring and fall semesters – maximum employment for international ASWs in the highest paid positions possible – only earn $23,184 in a year. That is less than half of the 2023 NYC living wage of $53,342. Even by the end of our proposed contract, we still won’t be earning a living wage, but we will have at least caught up with our peers at CUNY and Columbia (sorry NYU still blows us out of the water, even on our proposal) and those who work maximum hours will take home at least 70% of projected 2026 living wage.
Our members know very well that NONE of us earn enough to meet the minimum 40x monthly rent requirement expected by landlords on ANY apartments within the NYC area, whether we are looking at one bedroom, two bedroom, or three bedroom apartments shared by ASWs. We need a compensation package that actually allows us to live in the city we work in. Without major wage increases it is unclear how TNS can expect to continue staffing SENS jobs given that no SENS workers can afford to live in commuting range.
International and Non-Citizen Worker Rights and Sanctuary Campus Rights
We proposed several new protections for international and non-citizen ASWs including:
- Restrictions on ICE, DHS, and other governmental agencies access to campus and to information about students.
- Reimbursement for any expenses accrued by international students due to errors or delays made by Internal Student and Scholar Services.
- That the University serve as an institutional residential lease guarantor for up to 100 international ASWs who cannot otherwise secure housing in the NYC area.
- The creation of a legal and accounting assistance fund designed to help international and non-citizen ASWs navigate immigration law and taxes in the U.S.
Appointments, Reappointments, and Protected Activities
We proposed a new article that responds to member concerns about job security, precarity, and the uncertainty of re-employment. Our proposal is nuanced and balances the interests of currently working ASWs with those of new members. It establishes a shared understanding that appointments that last at least two semesters are in the mutual interest of both ASWs and the University. It also offers academic freedom and freedom of expression protections for ASWs seeking re-appointment.
On our proposal, if the University fails to provide job-related materials, ASWs can purchase up to $20 of these materials without prior approval and can seek reimbursement through MyDay. No more teacher-bought markers!