New school administrators step up strike-breaking threats after part-time teachers reject ‘final’ offer

New School administrators are stepping up their threats to bring in replacements after striking adjunct professors overwhelmingly rejected the private New York University’s ‘last, best and final’ offer. Nearly 2,000 part-time faculty members of United Auto Workers Local 7902 have been on strike since Nov. 16 to fight for decent wages, better health care coverage and safety employment.

Adjunct teachers on strike at the New School [Photo: WSWS]

Last Thursday, strikers rejected the insulting deal, which included a massive reduction in real wages and higher insurance premiums, by 95%, with 1,821 workers voting ‘no’ and only 88 ‘yes’. Part-time teachers, who make up 87% of The New School’s faculty, have not received a pay raise for four years.

Although there was broad support from students, faculty and other sections of workers inside and outside the university to broaden the struggle, the United Auto Workers union isolated the strike, kept the students on starvation-level strike pay and signaled his willingness to lower his salary and other demands. Following the rejection of the contract, UAW Local 7902 immediately accepted the New School administration’s longstanding request for federal mediation.

This only emboldened university administrators. Over the weekend, a group of students released a leaked email from The New Schools Talent Engagement Coordinator, which clearly stated that the university was looking to hire “additional assessors” from the outside the school to rate the students if the strike continued.

The email stated that potential candidates could be assigned “a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in Fashion Design”, but “do not need to have experience in the tools used. to design garment patterns or in the draping and sewing of fabrics, but will review the stated learning outcomes and the student’s submitted work to determine sufficient progress towards those outcomes.” There were similar descriptions for other majors saying scabs didn’t need any special knowledge to grade students.

The release of the email sparked widespread anger among strikers and students. As of this writing, nearly 3,000 students, parents and others have signed a petition denouncing the plan, saying, “We came to the new school and paid a lot of money to be taught and graded. by legitimate professionals, and putting our grades in the hands of untrained and unvetted temps is a complete betrayal of The New School’s duty to us as students and could result in serious damage to our academic transcripts . Plus, it’s a huge waste of our tuition to hire hundreds of temp workers when that money could be better spent just paying the teachers we already have, who are desperate for a contract that will bring them back to class !

The petition signatories declined to be graded by scabs or to meet with anyone other than their own teachers for grading purposes.

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