Bargaining Committee Elections – Meet the Candidates
SENS-UAW is electing its bargaining committee! This is the members’ chance to elect 6 representatives who will take their concerns to the negotiation table. The elections will be on Tuesday, September 19, from 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, in the Levinson Lower Lobby, on the lower level of The New School’s 6 East 16th Street building.
Voting in the election will be at large and shall not be restricted by jurisdiction. Voters, regardless of department, shall be entitled to vote for up to six  candidates.
Eligible voters are any union supporters who have a signed a card. If you have not signed a union card previously, you may do so at the polls in order to vote. Ballots will be counted after the polls close in Levinson Lower Lobby.
Meet the Candidates
Michael Dobson, Politics, NSSR
I am seeking election to the SENS-UAW Local 7902 Bargaining Committee because of my belief that collective bargaining can deliver tangible and much-needed improvements to the lives of New School students, and because I am confident I have the experience necessary to be an effective negotiator for our student body. This experience includes two and a half years practicing as a lawyer at a large corporate law firm in New Zealand, and one year as a legal advisor to the Republic of the Marshall Islands leading up to, and at, the COP21 negotiations that created the Paris Climate Agreement. In these roles I was involved in complex, hard-fought negotiations, carried out both by exchange of correspondence and through formal and informal negotiations. I enjoy negotiating and would relish the opportunity to undertake it on behalf of current and future New School student employees. I would take my responsibilities as a negotiator very seriously, in particular the responsibility to proactively engage with the wider student employee body regarding the progression of negotiations and the major objectives to be achieved.
Originally from New Zealand, I left legal practice to come to the New School in 2012, determined to find a more socially impactful use of my critical faculties than a career in corporate law. I completed my MA in Politics at NSSR with Nancy Fraser, and am now pursuing a PhD in the same department. I have worked as an RA, am currently a TF, and will be a TA this Spring.
Katherine Fox, Lang
My name is Katherine Fox and I want to accept my nomination onto the SENS- UAW Fall 2017 bargaining committee. I have been involved in SENS-UAW since the organizing process last spring for the secret ballot we held in May. I believe the student workers deserve representation that is 1)actively trying to engage with students and keep them updated on the bargaining process and how being in a unit will affect their position, and their semester 2) dedicating to representing as many students as possible by looking critically at responses to the bargaining survey and 3)focused on creating a contract that suits the needs of current student workers, and only increases in understanding, representation, and just work environment as time spent in the Union increases. As a Lang student, I believe it’s important to have strong relationships with professors that hire student workers as well as knowing student workers in every department. I would make a great candidate for the bargaining committee because I have been involved for some time, I’m organized, great at working in groups, confident with public speaking/organizing skills and I believe unions make for stronger, more focused, happier work environments.
Mithra Lehn, Philosophy, NSSR
I have been a member of The New School community for 10 years and currently am a PhD student in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. During this time I have been a student employee both as an undergraduate and a graduate student where I worked as a Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant at Eugene Lang College and NSSR. My experience in these positions has given me a robust understanding of the needs and challenges that student workers at the New School face. As a response to these concerns, I have been active in the many political struggles on campus by helping organize and participating in discussions, protests and occupations against tuition hikes and the lack of financial transparency. Last year I became actively involved the SENS Union campaign where I fought for our right to unionize and am very proud to have been a part of the large effort that won our union. If I receive the honor of serving as a member of the bargaining committee, I will work hard to hear all of the student employee’s concerns and will fight for the strongest contract that makes these demands a reality.
Lisa Lipscomb, Sociology, NSSR
My name is Lisa Lipscomb and I’m a PhD candidate in the Sociology department at NSSR. During my time at The New School, I have worked at Eugene Lang College as a Teaching Fellow, a TA, and a Grader, and at Parsons as a Research Assistant. I attended the first SENS-UAW organizing meeting in the spring of 2014, participated in work-ins, and actions including delivering letters directly to President Van Zandt’s office because I believe that student workers are legitimate employees who have the right to bargain over the conditions of their labor.
In March of this year, I began working closely with the SENS-UAW Organizing Committee. I helped get signatures for the Commit to Vote YES/Strike Authorization Vote then once we had our election date, I helped turn out a strong YES vote. During my time organizing, I have spoken with many current and aspiring academic student workers at NSSR, Parsons, NSPE, Lang, CPA, and Milano. We won our union with 502 YES votes to 2 NO votes because of the support across all New School departments and divisions and a desire for improvements to our workplace. My organizing work has taught me that TAs, RAs, TFs, SA3s, and Tutors have common concerns: they desire timely payment of wages, job security, and transparency about hiring practices. If elected to the bargaining committee, I will continue to listen to student workers about their priorities and fight for a strong first contact that benefits all academic student workers.
Mark Rafferty, Economics, NSSR
SENS-UAW is a young union with a fighting spirit. To get to where we are now, we’ve had to struggle against the administration’s obstruction for three years. Now that we’re at the bargaining table, I think we’ll need to keep struggling if we want to win tangible gains. At the New School, the lack of healthcare, transparent pay scales, and family leave/childcare policies have a negative impact on international students, women, students of color, and other marginalized student workers. I want SENS-UAW to lead the way in laying a material groundwork of policies at the school that can lift up the most marginalized of our ranks.
I’m currently an MA student in Economics working in a TA position. I’ve been a volunteer with SENS-UAW since the Fall of 2016, and I’ve also worked as a part-time UAW organizer in part of the spring semester as well as this semester. I’ve talked with hundreds of students across all five schools, and I understand many of the issues that student workers face across diverse departments.
As a member of the bargaining committee, I’ll bring the student workers’ demands—and energy—to the table. I’ll make it clear to the administration that they are bargaining not just with the committee, but with the entire rank and file body of student workers. Our experience has shown that the student workers of SENS-UAW don’t back down from a fight. And when we fight, we win!
Srishti Yadav, Economics, NSSR
I am a third semester PhD student at the Economics department and am currently an RA (hence I’m mad about the shockingly low pay). In the past year I served as a representative of the Economics Students’ Union, which has given me some experience in ‘bargaining’ with faculty on matters of student concern. I have also been part of the unionization effort at the New School and strongly support greater reach and size for our union. Previously, I studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, which has a history of vibrant student activism and of leading nationwide student movements. My years at JNU taught me the importance of student unity in the face of a tough administration and State.
Being an international student, the power divide between TNS administration and students is very stark to me. As international students we are almost at the mercy of the school for employment opportunities, and this places us in a weaker position – we take whatever we get. Effectively, this also allows the school to cut costs and employ students at relatively cheap labour. The lack of affordable healthcare and uncertain work hours, which compete with our academic obligations are other important issues that affect most students. If elected to the bargaining committee, I will persistently raise these and other concerns, as reflected in the bargaining surveys which are pertinent to the student body.
Daniel Younessi, Economics, NSSR
I am a current PhD student in economics; starting my third year at the New School in total. I have spent all that time as a supporter of and participant in SENS-UAW activities, having been involved particularly with communications, outreach and the vote drive. In addition I was an early participant in the unionization drive at the University of Connecticut (my first graduate institution). Although I graduated before the union at UConn was established, it nonetheless provided useful early experience in union organizing. I have also spent the last four years intimately involved with the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting displacement, rent increases and targeting of migrants and ethnic minorities throughout Queens. In my capacity as an affiliate of the QAGP, I have organized several teach-ins, protests and marches and the grassroots level – organizing tenants, neighbors and locals, often of very diverse backgrounds. I believe that my experience as an organizer in a variety of settings (labor and tenant, academic and local) will allow me to be a useful addition to the bargaining team.
Don’t forget to vote!
Tuesday, September 19, 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Levinson Lower Lobby, Lower Level, 6 East 16th Street