NYC New School worker-students strike against poverty wages


NYC New School worker-students strike against poverty wages

Alan Whyte

9 May 2018

Some 850 worker-students at the New School for Social Research in New York City went on strike Tuesday to protest the lack of a contract. The strikers, teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants (RAs), set up picket lines at three entrances to the school, which is located in lower Manhattan’s Union Square. The workers are members of the Student Employees at the New School union (SENS), an affiliate of the United Auto Workers (UAW).

In addition to taking classes as students, they have an exhausting workload as teachers and researchers, for which they are paid poverty pages in one of the least affordable cities in the world. RAs and TAs are paid for 20 hours of work per week, while the actual hours they log may be far more than that. A worker-student may receive a stipend of only $6,000 a year.

It is virtually impossible to live on these wages. In the most unequal of American cities, the New School pays its president, David Van Zandt, a base salary of $696,681, with total compensation reaching $2,081,584.

New School student workers picket line

Although no details have been released, the union announced in a leaflet that the university administration, after much delay, made an offer that fails to address the worker-students’ demands for increases in wages, tuition remission, health care and childcare benefits.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled last May that the New School worker-students had the right to unionize. Following a legal challenge to the decision filed by the university, the students took a vote in July 2017 and by a margin of 502 to 2 decided to join the union.

The UAW deliberately limited the impact of the strike by timing it for the period after…

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