Striking New York University graduate students must return to work by next week or lose stipends of at least $19,000 a year, university President John Sexton announced.
Students returning to class would have to accept the school’s pay offer, originally proposed by the university in August, and agree to stay on the job through the end of the school year, Sexton said earlier this week in a letter to graduate students.
“The time has come for the University to insist that the academic needs of its undergraduates be met,” said the letter, which came nearly three weeks after the beginning of the strike.
The picketing students have been fighting to get the school to negotiate with their union, but the letter said the university’s offer would instead be cemented through individual contracts with each student.
The chairman of the graduate student organizing group, Michael Palm, said he would not return to work without a contract.
“Many of our members are outraged over the threats,” the fifth-year graduate student in American studies told The New York Times. “But this demonstrates that the administration cannot complete the semester without our labor. They are trying to intimidate our members back to work in time to clean up the semester.”
The students were represented by the United Automobile Workers union until this summer, when NYU said it would no longer recognize a graduate student union based on a policy reversal by the National Labor Relations Board.
NYU argues that graduate assistants are not employees, they are students who have “assistantship” semesters as part of their financial aid packages of some $50,000 that includes free tuition.
Students who do not accept the amnesty offer will lose their stipends in the spring semester and may receive loans to cover the loss. They will continue to receive free tuition and health benefits, Sexton’s letter said.
— Associated Press
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