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<nettime> NYU at a turning point
Marco Deseriis on Tue, 6 Dec 2005 15:00:18 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> NYU at a turning point


Dear nettimers,

it seems that what is the strike of the Teaching Assistants of New York 
University is at a critical turn.

For those who haven't followed the story, everything began last summer, 
when the Provost John Sexton announced his will to not renew for the 
season 2005/2006 the contract of Graduate Assistants and Teaching 
Assistants, and not to recognize anyomore their union, the Graduate 
Studentes Organizing Committee (GSOC).

NYU's decision came after the Bush-controlled National Labor Relations 
Board gave it a bright green light to do so last year. The panel ruled 
that the assistants are students, not employees with bargaining rights. 
However, the 3-2 decision - which overturned an earlier ruling by a 
Clinton-appointed board - does not prevent NYU to sign a contract.

NYU's administration promised to the GAs/TAs an increase of a 1,000 
dollars per year (the current stipend ranges from nil to 19,000 $ a 
dollar, as the situation varies greatly from school to school), full 
tuition remission fees, and an health care plan.

The union replied that any contract has to be bargained, as, for 
instance, the new health care plan is less comprehensive than the one 
included in the expired contract.

As NYU did not recognize the union, last Nov 9, the TAs voted with an 
overwhelming majority (85%) a resolution to initiate a strike. After 3 
weeks of strike, John Sexton threatened with an email to fire the TAs 
who don't go back to work after December the 5th (including myself).

Sexton's email has suscitated a wave of indignation in the academic 
world, as it appears clear to everybody that firing teachers who have 
been selected by the Departments means overriding academic governance 
and impose a corporate management over a body that has a long tradition 
of collegial decision-making.

In a Dec 2 open letter to Sexton, Judith Butler, Fredric Jameson, Slavoi 
Zizek, Donna Haraway, Etienne Balibar, Gayatri Spivak, Talal Asad and 
(at the moment) other 650 scholars have asked to the administration to 
step back.

The letter, particularly harsh in its tones, clearly marks the existence 
of a "world intelligentzia" defending the value of its own cultural capital.

I'd like to open a discussion on this, as what is happening right now at 
NYU seems to be a chapter of the history for the struggle over the 
appropriation of intellectual knowledge.

>From a CEO's viewpoint, where should I set the threshold between 
cutting on certain expenses and losing the reputation I necessarily need 
to build the image of a prestigious university?

And from an intellectual/immaterial worker viewpoint, how can I defend 
and increase the value of my own cultural capital?


Best,
Snafu


---

http://www.facultydemocracy.org/letterfromscholars.htm

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?tosexton&151 (to sign 
the letter)


December 2, 2005
John Sexton
President, New York University

We, the undersigned faculty from several universities in the United 
States and abroad, write to express our objections to the New York 
University administration's efforts to defeat the graduate student union 
and retaliate against those who have initiated and sustained the current 
strike. The union in question was clearly instated on the basis of a 
fair election which then obligated New York University to negotiate with 
the appointed representatives in a fair and open manner. Although the 
NLRB in 2005 released the university from its obligations to recognize 
the union, it did not authorize retaliatory action on the part of the 
university.The recent actions of your office, now widely publicized, 
defy all protocols of civility and fairness and herald a bellicose 
approach to the union and its demands for fair wages, decent health 
care, and provisional job security.

As we all know, there may be differences of opinion on how best to 
formulate policies that would address these various issues, but 
undermining the union itself is nothing more than Reagan-esque 
union-busting and so conveys and enacts hostility to student labor that 
can only heighten conflict and circulate a ruinous image for New York 
University as an unfair and indecent place of employment. The 
infiltration of student and faculty email constitutes an unauthorized 
invasion of privacy.And the most recent threat to rescind funding for 
students engaged in the strike constitutes an abhorrent form of coercion.

We urge you to enter into negotiations with the union and to find civil, 
legal, and productive ways of resolving whatever issues of employment 
exist between these two parties.

Sincerely,

Judith Butler
Maxine Elliot Professor
University of California, Berkeley

Fredric Jameson
William A. Lane Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies
Duke University

Joan W. Scott
Harold F. Linder Professer of Social Science
Institute for Advanced Study

Talal Asad
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology
City University of New York

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities
Columbia University

Paul Gilroy
Anthony Giddens Professors of Social Theory
London School of Economics

Donna Haraway
Professor of History of Consciousness
University of California at Santa Cruz

Slavoj Zizek
Co-Director
International Center for Humanities
Birkbeck College, University of London

Etienne Balibar
Professeur ?m?rite, Universit? de Paris X Nanterre
Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of California, Irvine




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