UAW seeks to isolate Columbia and New York University graduate student struggles | #students | #parents

Graduate student workers at New York University (NYU) will begin voting today on whether to authorize a strike to fight for improved wages and health care, expanded family and child care benefits and other demands. The threat of strike action at NYU comes as over 3,000 graduate students at Columbia University begin the second week of a walkout against their administration’s resistance to similar demands.

Striking Columbia grad student workers (WSWS)

Graduate workers at both schools are members of unions affiliated to the United Auto Workers (UAW). Rather than uniting the struggles, however, the UAW is doing everything to isolate each section of grad students and subordinate their fight to the union’s maneuvers with university executives and the Democratic Party.

This was made clear by the comments of Maida Rosenstein, president of UAW Local 2110—an amalgamated union that has repeatedly negotiated concessionary contracts for workers throughout New York City. Speaking at a Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) meeting at NYU last week, she explicitly argued against the proposal to coordinate the strikes by NYU students and Columbia students. Rosenstein told student workers they should not be influenced by “outside factors” in their decision to call a strike.

In what was likely a slip of the tongue, Rosenstein told the GSOC meeting that the Columbia University (CU) strike was, “I believe, only timed for two weeks.” In fact, the CU strikers never set any end date to their struggle. The functionaries in the UAW, however, plan to run roughshod over the democratic rights of grad students and try to shut down the CU strike even before NYU GSOC concludes its strike vote. This is because an overwhelming strike vote by NYU grad students would bolster the confidence and determination of CU grad students to hold out until they win their demands.

This is not the first time the UAW has shown its real colors at CU and NYU. In 2018, UAW negotiated a secret deal with the Columbia University administration, unbeknownst to the members of the Graduate Workers of Columbia University (GWC-UAW) union, to block any strike action. The three-day sick out in early May of last year, organized by the graduate students at NYU, was actively condemned by the UAW.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) strongly supports the courageous stand taken by striking Columbia graduate students and urges NYU graduate students to vote to authorize strike action. We urge student workers to reject the UAW’s sabotage and link up their struggles in a coordinated strike aimed at mobilizing the broadest support in the working class to win their common demands.

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