FAQ for grad workers

For a summary of main points of contract, please click here.

Am I covered by the contract?

Graduate NYU workers recognized as part of the bargaining unit by New York University are covered by the contract:

  • Graduate students (Master’s/Ph.D.) who teach classes or have appointed teaching assistantships or laboratory assistantships (except Ph.D. student adjuncts beyond the 7th year and MBA candidates at Stern)
  • Research assistants (with exceptions at Poly and GSAS STEM departments)
  • Graduate & course assistants (with exception at the School of Medicine)
  • Graduate student workers in a range of miscellaneous positions, who are employed by NYU

To read about the exceptions, click here.

How will the contract affect me?

Download the full contract or read the boiled down version here. Benefits include (among other things) 90% coverage of health care, StuDent dental coverage, yearly pay raises, substitution appointment if the class you are teaching gets cancelled, a dependent healthcare fund, and a childcare fund.

Can my school reduce my stipend because of the benefits of the contract?

No! (see the contract Article IV, Section G)

Why should I sign a Union card?

If you are part of the bargaining unit and covered by the contract you should sign a union card under Article III of our contract.

By signing a card you confirm your membership in GSOC/UAW Local 2110. We are the union together, and we are only as strong as our member ranks. More members enables us to better advocate for graduate worker interests and workplace rights! Becoming a member will also make you eligible to vote in union elections and issue ballots, shaping the priorities of our union now and in the future.

By signing a card you also authorize deduction of union dues from paychecks during the semesters you are employed in a union position. Even if you have not signed a card, you must pay the Agency Fee (equivalent to the dues and initiation fee) during the semesters you work in a union position. By signing a card you also make that process easier for yourself and for the union!

Where can I sign a card?

There are currently three ways to get a card to sign and become a union member:

1. Union stewards and staff will circulate cards in all departments. (Contact us if you want to help with this important work!)

2. A union membership card should also be included in your letter of appointment (for all eligible graduate employee positions) starting fall 2015. Please contact us if that is not the case!

3. You can also download a card directly from Local 2110’s website and email it to Local2110@2110uaw.org.

 

When do I have to pay dues?

Dues are only paid/deducted the semesters you are working in a union position, even if you sign a card during a semester you are not working. Dues are deducted from your paycheck on applicable semesters, if you have signed a card.

If you have not signed a card yet, you must pay the Agency Fee (equivalent to cost of dues) no later than 31 days after you start working. Agency fee workers do not get voting rights in the union, although it will continue to represent them. Either way, you’ve got to pay, so why not sign a card?

How much are the dues?

Dues are 2% of total compensation during the semesters in which you are employed in a union position, and are deducted from every pay-check. This includes your wages from your union work and your NYU funding package. In addition to the dues there is an Initiation fee of up to $50 (it may be less, depending on your pay grade) when you first join the union.

2% of total compensation sounds a lot – will I lose money through this contract?

Considering that the pay raises in the contract stipulate at least 2.25% increase of total compensation per year, and that many employees covered by the contract will also have fees waived and 90% of their health insurance cost paid, no one will end up with less money in-pocket because of the contract.

What are our dues used for?

Dues are the Union’s sole source of revenue and pay for all operational costs including staff, legal costs, rent, equipment, etc.

Dues also pay the costs of organizing new workplaces. Our ten-year campaign to regain union rights cost a lot of money (around $6 million), and was funded by dues income from other UAW members. Our dues will go on to contribute to organizing other university workers and winning their labor rights.

A portion of dues also goes to the UAW Strike & Defense fund which covers all UAW members in case they must during strike during contract negotiations.

What do I do
…if the class I am teaching is cancelled?
…if my matriculation fees were not waived when they should’ve been?
…I didn’t get the dependent health insurance reimbursement?
…if any other part of the contract wasn’t met, and I think it should be?

Our contract provides a mechanism for addressing these workplace issues: the grievance procedure. The most important step to take if you think you might have something to grieve is to contact a union steward immediately. Our contract requires grievances to be filed within 15 business days of the offense.

You can take the first step of an individual grievance—talking with the appropriate faculty member or administrator—on your own, but it’s best to discuss first with a union representative and ask them to come with you (as is your legal right). If it’s a wider problem that affects more than just you, a steward may recommend you join a group grievance to get the best outcome.

You can read more about grievance procedure in Article XX of our contract. The two most important things to keep in mind about grievances are that 1) union representatives will aim to get you the best possible settlement for you at every step of the procedure, and 2) how far that procedure goes, from initial departmental conversations to formal arbitration, is a strategic decision that takes into consideration your input as a grievant alongside the strength of your case and the resources of the union.

Can I choose not to be a member of the union?

If you are appointed to one of the positions included in the agreement, you are covered by the contract automatically and you cannot opt out. You could choose not to sign a card, but you MUST still pay an Agency Fee (equivalent to dues and initiation fees) as a condition of continued employment.

Whom do I contact if I have more questions?

You can contact a steward, one of our committees, or the graduate student representatives!

For more specifics about the contract, please see our contract page.

After I have signed a card – how can I get more involved in the union?

Feel free to stop by one of our meetings (typically the 3rd Tuesday of the month), or contact one of the stewards to hear about getting involved. Start by following us on Facebook and signing up for the GSOC mailing list! We are the union, together!