Some Teaching Assistants at NYU Lose Stipends.

March 1, 2006

In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, John Gravois reports that a small number of graduate teaching assistants found out the hard way that striking would not result in a positive outcome. According to Gravois, these TA’s received letters from the administration which stated that they would not receive teaching assignments or stipends for the next two semesters. Said Gravois, “The letters made good on an ultimatum issued in November by the university's president, John E. Sexton, to graduate students who did not show up for their teaching assignments in January.” According to the graduate students’ union, only three strikers have received letters. So far, according to the graduate students' union, only three strikers have received letters. All three teach full courses on their own, while most teaching assistants at NYU lead only discussion sections in courses taught by professors. “Many of those sections had yet to meet when the first letters were mailed,” said Gravois. Unionized graduate students at NYU went on strike in November in an effort to pressure the university into recognizing their union. “Neither the union nor the university has a solid estimate of how many teaching assistants remain on strike, although both say the number is now probably well below half of the graduate-student population,” said Gravois. According to Susan Valentine, a union spokeswoman, some students left the picket line when their stipends were threatened in November. NYU will help students who have had their stipends cut by offering loans in addition to the financial package under which they were admitted to their graduate programs. “Even those who continue to strike will continue to get all of their tuition and will continue to get one hundred percent of their health care paid for,” said John Beckman, vice president for public affairs. According to Gravois, the United Auto Workers, which represents the graduate students, routinely pays $200 a week to striking workers who have had their pay cut. In addition, the local union, the Graduate Students Organizing Committee, has raised money for a hardship fund to help unpaid strikers with emergency expenses. For full coverage, visit the Chronicle of Higher Education website:

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