Media that empowers working people – that's how we build a More Perfect Union.

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Ideas

Have a story to tell or idea to share?
Email [email protected]
© 2021 More Perfect Union Action

Together we can build power for working people.

We’re asking questions that really matter, and telling the stories of people who really need to be seen and heard.

You can support our work by donating today.

Amount

Make It Monthly

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

How NYU Grad Students Won A Major Labor Fight On Their Campus

The successful campaign would not have been possible without years of persistent community organizing.

New York University is one of the most exclusive and profitable private universities in the United States, situated in the heart of one of the most expensive cities in America. Like at other peer institutions, graduate student workers are the backbone of much of NYU’s core operations, providing teaching instruction, administrative support, conducting research on the university’s behalf, and more. Yet, until earlier this year, NYU offered its graduate student workers lackluster healthcare and paternal benefits, and wages that were low for New York City.

But, earlier this year, the Graduate Student Organising Council, or GSOC for short, mobilized 2,200 student workers to fight for substantial improvements to their existent agreement with the university. Their campaign resulted in a 30% across the board pay increase for hourly workers, including back-dated pay starting in the fall of 2020, improved healthcare coverage, guarantees that protect international students from federal inmigration authorities, and a full six weeks of paid parental leave for all graduate workers. These are impressive victories, even within the context of the recent successes of the labor movement on campus.

Why did NYU’s union prove so successful? What can other workers in America do to replicate their success?

GSOC pushed for open bargaining early on, ensuring every single union member would be able to witness the negotiations with the university. This move allowed student workers to continually offer feedback at pre- and post-negotiation caucus meetings. Crucially, it also forced NYU to reckon with public pressure — opening their refusal to offer a living wage and decent benefits to greater scrutiny.

But, bargaining is only the beginning. For workers everywhere — from the mines of Tuscaloosa County to the graduate student offices of the lower East side — strikes remain the single most effective way to get your employer’s attention. After months’ worth of unproductive bargaining sessions, the union moved to organize a strong three-week strike with the backing of over 96% of its members. They ensured massive, energetic participation in the strike, including international workers, through innovative tactics like online picketing. By the 21st day, NYU had approved an immediate $6 per hour raise and was eager to engage in negotiations.

The student activists behind the drive for a better contract are eager to point out the role played by individuals and organizations outside the union. They credit an outpouring of support from local student unions, like Columbia’s graduate workers union, GWC, or the City University of New York’s PSC, who helped strengthen the effort through solidary picketing and food donations for the striking workers. Undergraduate students at NYU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America organized phone banks to support their instructors.

The successful campaign would not have been possible without years of persistent community organizing. GSOC’s success, like that of many successful unionization efforts in higher education, was based on their commitment to engage their community. From phonebanking to ensure the strike vote had a high participation rate, to frequent meetings throughout the bargaining process, GSOC repeatedly strived to hear from its own membership. “A Democratic union,” says one of the lead organizers, “means a union where the collective — not a select few — informs our strategy and our actions.” GSOC’s internal structure ensured a cohesiveness that made them powerful and eased the path to a more generous contract.

NYU’s latest bargaining round is a positive chapter within an ongoing fight raging from Amazon warehouses to Harvard’s halls. GSOC’s success can serve, above all, as an inspiration, a template — a clear example of how worker power can win, and of the immense benefits that follow when it does.

The struggle for fair working conditions will continue, at NYU and everywhere else. And workers will succeed if they manage to have a powerful, democratic union right by their side.

The Latest

Burn The Forest To Save It, Firefighters Argue
Read More
10,000 John Deere Workers Are Officially On Strike
Read More
Ohio’s New Election Maps Are So Rigged Even the GOP Governor Says They’re Illegal
Read More
CVS Workers Refuse To Settle For Nickels And Dimes
Read More
Working 120 Days Straight: Kellogg’s Workers Go on Strike to Protest Brutal Conditions
Read More
Netflix and Amazon Film Crews Expose Horrific Conditions On Set
Read More
The Inside Scoop On The Campaign To Primary Kyrsten Sinema
Read More
Amazon Worker Died After Being Assigned To COVID Testing Team
Read More
Voters Rage At Rep. Scott Peters For Selling Out On Drug Prices
Read More
DeJoy Slows Down USPS Mail Service To Speed Up Privatization
Read More
60,000 Hollywood Crew Workers Gear Up For First-Ever Strike
Read More
The Real Reason Grocery Prices Are Skyrocketing
Read More
Starbucks Tries To Crush Historic Union Drive In Buffalo
Read More
Exclusive: Tesla Employee Speaks Out On Rampant Racism At The Company
Read More
How Spotify Is Killing The Music Industry
Read More
Exclusive: Racist Slurs & Toxic Culture At Tesla
Read More
Meet The Democrat Helping To Destroy The Postal Service
Read More
Apple Is Behind One Of The Largest Thefts In History
Read More
How Iowa City Defeated Grubhub
Read More
A Frito-Lay Worker Was Electrocuted, Denied Medical Care & Stalked by Company Agents
Read More
How Fort Worth Activists Defeated the Dollar Store Invasion
Read More
Forced to Work 12 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week: The Dark Side of Frito-Lay
Read More
The NRA You’ve Never Heard Of Is Blocking a $15 Minimum Wage
Read More
How NYU Grad Students Won A Major Labor Fight On Their Campus
Read More
These Drivers Could Defeat Uber & Lyft With Their Own App
Read More
For Fast-Food Workers, the Pandemic Made a Bad Situation Worse. Now They’re Fighting Back.
Read More
A Modern Day Sweatshop: The Tesla Factory Secrets Elon Musk Doesn’t Want You To Know
Read More
Drivers Protest Uber & Lyft
Gig Workers Take On Big Tech in Massachusetts
Read More
Striking Alabama Coal Miners Put Their Lives on the Line
Read More
Fired By Elon Musk for Unionizing at Tesla
Read More
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Boosts Republican Assault on Democracy
Read More
The Real Deal: Mergers Fuel Job Losses
Read More
Republicans Wage War to Deny More Than 800,000 Disabled and Elderly Americans Home Care
Read More
New Poll: Majority of Voters Support the PRO Act and the For the People Act
Read More
Poll Finds Republicans Support Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax
Read More
The Dirty Secret Behind Dollar General’s Low Prices
Read More
Majority of Trump Voters & 65% of Americans Support Medicare Expansion
Read More
Workers rally for the PRO Act.
NEW POLL: Bipartisan Support for PRO Act in Arizona, Virginia and Other Key States
Read More
TV Networks Caught Airing Fake “Interviews” Scripted By Major Corporate Lobby
Read More
BREAKING: New Details Bolster Likelihood NLRB Will Overturn Amazon Union Election
Read More
Exclusive: Emails Show Amazon Pressured USPS To Install Illegal Dropbox During Union Election
Read More
NEW REPORT: Amazon’s Most Egregious Illegal Action To Bust The Union Organizing Effort
Read More
EXPOSED: The Major Corporations Funding Voter Suppression Efforts in Georgia
Read More