Students support GSOC and decry war at park rally
By: Diana Belletien
November 19, 2001
Students at NYU held a rally Thursday afternoon in Washington Square Park to defend labor rights for NYU’s graduate student workers and express opposition to the war in Afghanistan.
“We’re here to raise awareness,” Geoffrey Winder, a student at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, said.
The rally supported the members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), who are backed by the United Auto Workers (UAW), as voting by GSOC for a proposed strike authorization continued into the beginning of this week.
If passed, the vote will allow the creation of a strike deadline in the negotiations between the GSOC-UAW and NYU, according to Winder.
According to a GSOC bargaining update sheet given at an informational meeting on Tuesday, an important issue in these negotiations is the right to a living wage. Currently, graduate student teachers earn an average of $12,000 of year. GSOC proposed the minimum salary be increased to $18,000 a year. This opposes NYU’s proposed $11,000 salary for Ph.D. workers and $7,500 for masters candidates workers or a 2 percent increase on current salary, whichever is greater.
“The University’s priority,” Gallatin student Corey Eastwood said, “Is saving a buck instead of looking at the workers in a compassionate way.”
The graduate workers are not getting the rights they deserve, Winder said.
The connection between a rally for GSOC support and anti-war sentiments, Eastwood said, is that other institutions in America prioritize the same savings as opposed to compassion.
“The United States is using the war as a pretext for other benefits labor unions must sacrifice,” said Michael Letwin, president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW, who spoke out against the war not on behalf of the union, but on private terms.
Brian Price, a Gallatin student at NYU, spoke out at the rally in favor of the GSOC.
“NYU is calling for a campus community and yet it is ignoring workers and making decisions without undergraduates,” he said.
The rally concluded with 30 dancing and foot-stomping students chanting, “There ain’t no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop!”
“We came together to unify the student voice,” Eastwood said.