Archive: Pre-Contract Blog

The New School tries to downplay it’s anti-union legal battle

The good news…our election is only days away, Wednesday, May 3 & Thursday, May 4, and support and excitement is growing.  Our commitment to building a union is stronger than ever.  We are inspired by the accomplishments of our unionized colleagues at other universities and the part-time faculty here at The New School.
The not so good news…the administration continues to engage in legal machinations to obstruct our election.
Yesterday, President Van Zandt sent a message to the entire university community. The collegial tone of his message is at odds with the legal campaign the administration has waged against our union.  President Van Zandt says that the New School “look[s] forward to hosting the election.” Yet, for two and a half years, the administration has blocked our efforts to form our union.  We have won every legal fight, but enormous time, energy and valuable resources have been wasted.
In his message, President Van Zandt downplays the administration’s appeal, “The New School also has asked the NLRB to review one, limited aspect of its recent decision….” But in its legal filing the administration asks the NLRB to overturn the decision and disenfranchise voters.  In fact, the University argues on nearly every page of its brief that the majority of the student workers found eligible by the NLRB to vote in the election should be barred from participating in the union, saying “…there could be no finding that there is an expectation of recurring employment of Graduate Assistants at The New School, except for the few fully-funded students…”(page 10). The university has had months to make these arguments. It is a common approach that employers take to defeat unionization by their employees.
We are confident that when the ballots are counted we will have won by a significant margin, like our colleagues at Columbia and NYU.  Unfortunately, The New School has persuaded the NLRB to challenge the ballot of every voter on the eligibility list during the election.  This is unprecedented in the history of NLRB elections.  It appears that The New School will be known in corporate circles for having achieved a new way to fight unions – “The New School Challenge”.    This will be the labor relations legacy of President Van Zandt and his administration and will be a significant stain on The New School’s progressive history.
We will not be turned back.  We will honor The New School’s truly enlightened mission by voting UNION YES next week.
We look forward to celebrating when the election concludes next Thursday.  But once the polls close, let’s all commit to fighting for the ballots to be counted and for negotiations to commence in good faith.
In Solidarity,
SENS-UAW organizing committee


On April 22nd, The New School filed a Request for Review with the Regional Labor Board in an attempt to wage another legal battle against SENS-UAW and claim that we are not workers with the right to unionize. Instead of respecting the outcome of the election as we had hoped they would do, the university is wasting time and resources in costly legal battles to fight us.  We are outraged by this flagrant disregard for our democratic rights and violation of the social justice principles that The New School brands itself upon.


It is more important than ever that we show up and vote yes for SENS-UAW on May 3rd and 4th. A strong yes vote will show The New School that we will not be deterred from exercising our rights.


WE GOT ELECTION DATES! May 3&4 Vote Union Yes

It’s official! We get to vote for SENS-UAW as our union on May 3rd and 4th, 2017.


We have huge, exciting news! The regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just announced the dates for our election on unionization for May 3rd and 4th.

This quick legal victory means we can transition from organizing for our strike authorization vote to organizing for our union election.  The foundation of strong union support for the strike authorization that was built over the last several weeks has resulted in an even deeper commitment to win our union vote.  So good news and even better news – the strike authorization vote is off and the union election is on!

When the majority of us vote yes, The New School will have a legal obligation to bargain with us. Like student employees at more than 60 university campuses across the US, we will gain the ability to negotiate for and secure improvements in a binding contract.

The NLRB election will take place on Wednesday, May 3rd and Thursday May 4th, from 10am-4pm in the Lower Level of 6 e16th Street. Further details to follow.

You can read the full NLRB decision here.

If you would like to get involved in helping get out the vote in your or other departments help win this historic election, please send us an email or fill out this form.

Legal Assistance for International Students and Workers

You may have seen the letter being circulated, which demands that President David Van Zandt, the administration, and University Board of Directors urgently address the calls for The New School to declare itself a Sanctuary Campus, and take concordant action.

Sanctuary demands are critical, but it has already been more than a week since the executive orders have created havoc for those who call, or hope to call, New York City and The New School, home.

Recognizing the imperative of action, the UAW is generously offering concrete support to those in our community affected by these new border restrictions.

Upon hearing that the New School has not made free legal counsel available to those affected or potentially affected by Trump’s executive orders and travel ban, Legal Services Staff Association (UAW 2320), have offered to serve in that capacity.

Students don’t need to be currently working to benefit from this counsel. If you need legal advice, or have unanswered questions, you may call Beth Baltimore, with the Legal Services Staff Association. Please email us at and we’ll pass on her phone number.

Our union — Student Employees at the New School (SENS-UAW) — has been fighting to be recognized by the New School Administration for more than two years. Throughout this battle SENS has been supported by the resources of the United Auto Workers — the labor union we (like academic workers at NYU, Columbia, and at schools all over the nation) chose to join.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the UAW, to the Legal Services Staff Association, and especially to Beth Baltimore for the aid they have made available in this time of crisis.

Courage and solidarity together!

TNS stays the course; we will keep mobilizing!

On Monday this week President Van Zandt responded to the December 21 letter from SENS-UAW organizers committing to prepare for a strike authorization vote if the administration continued to stall and the NLRB refrained from taking action on our case. While we are encouraged by initial action from the NLRB soon after our letter, and Van Zandt’s responding directly to us for the first time as a union, he made it clear that the administration will continue refusing to agree to a fair voluntary recognition process and instead wait for a legal decision to be handed down by the regional NLRB. This response makes it clear that we will need to keep moving ahead on both tracks, preparing to win an NLRB election and simultaneously preparing for a possible strike if the NLRB doesn’t move quickly and the administration continues to refuse to agree to a reasonable voluntary agreement.

Keep your ears posted for our meeting for next week where we will continue planning for pushing forward this coming semester. Until we have an election date, we cannot rule out striking as an option to prevent more delays.

NLRB takes action on our case!

Great news! The National Labor Relations Board has just issued a decision on our unionization petition. They have remanded the case back to the regional NLRB to take “further appropriate action consistent with Columbia University,” referring to the August decision affirming the right to collective bargaining for RAs and TAs. Based on this action, we hope the regional NLRB will process our case efficiently so that we can have a unionization election sometime early in the spring semester.

You can read today’s full decision here. This is another huge win, for student employees at the New School and for graduate workers at private universities across the country. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to get us this far!

Thanks to everyone who met, discussed, and signed onto our statement earlier this week to President Van Zandt. While today’s NLRB action is good news, we need to remain mobilized and ready to not just vote yes in a NLRB election, but also to continue pressuring the administration not to stall the NLRB process and to fight as we move forward for a strong union contract.

We will be in touch as soon as we know more about next steps, most likely after January 1. Happy holidays!

We will take action if necessary

We will take action if necessary

Despite a strong National Labor Relations Board ruling affirming the union rights of student assistants at private universities, in the Columbia case, the New School continues to ignore our choice to unionize and disregard the consistent support we have repeatedly shown for SENS-UAW. The NLRB also has not yet taken action on our case.

We cannot afford to wait for the NLRB, nor The New School administration who has so far refused to exercise its right to engage in a voluntary recognition process like NYU. So, today we delivered a message signed by student employees from across campus with a strong message to Van Zandt. If he doesn’t proceed with recognizing our union, we will start preparing for a strike authorization vote early Spring Semester..

Read the letter below and sign on here to show your support!

Huge News: Brown overturned!

Huge News: Brown overturned!

HUGE NEWS! We just won back our union rights thanks to a sweeping decision today by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).


The NLRB just ruled on GWC-UAW’s case at Columbia University restoring collective bargaining rights for graduate employees in private universities.

We expect the NLRB to rule on SENS-UAW’s case soon. If not we’ll reach out to them and update you as soon as we have more information.

Today’s decision – the result of years of tireless organizing by graduate employees – means we could have the opportunity to vote in a NLRB election and decide on having SENS-UAW as our union. If the majority of us vote yes, The New School would be legally obliged to engage in collective bargaining with us.

With collective bargaining, we would have the power to bargain as equals with The New School and make much needed improvements to our working lives. Any improvements would be secured in a contract that could not be changed without our agreement. We would be recognized for the significant role our teaching and research plays in making The New School a top-class institution.

In solidarity, the SENS-UAW organizing crew

Majority tell TNS to respect our democratic choice!

Majority tell TNS to respect our democratic choice!

Today, a delegation of researchers and teachers from across campus delivered our open letter to President Van Zandt himself, demanding that The New School respect our choice on unionization. As we expect the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to restore our right to collective bargaining and hold a vote at The New School early in the Fall, this an exciting way to end the year. Thanks to everyone who came from across campus today.

In order to bargain significant improvements like other RAs and TAs across the US, it will be important to have a large turnout voting “yes” for SENS-UAW in the Fall. If you would like to help make plans for a big vote from your department, click here and we will be in touch to make plans over the summer.

Precarity Circus @ Joe Hill Celebration

Precarity Circus @ Joe Hill Celebration

Thanks to all who participated in our action and the Joe Hill celebration Friday night.  A shout out from Amy Goodman and rousing support from the audience made the evening a huge success!

On the occasion of Don’t Mourn, Organize! Performances in Celebration of Labor Troubadour Joe Hill (1879-1915) SENS-UAW organized a festive demonstration that used humor and play to highlight the precarious conditions of our work-study-lives at The New School.

Inspired by the Precarious Workers Pageant at the Venice Biennale (2015), SENS-UAW demonstrated the difficulty of life without a union. The Precarity Circus featured clowns struggling to keep all the balls in the air, unstable balancers, and inflexible contortionists.