WSN Archive
Adjuncts' near-strike in 2004 offers parallels to today
Adam Playford
10/24/05 0:00

The possible GSOC strike is not the first time in recent history that NYU has faced the prospect of a job action that would leave the university without many of its instructors.

Last spring, the university came within hours of an adjunct strike, planned for 9 a.m. on April 21, but avoided it with 12 hours of negotiations that went through the night, resulting in a decision recognizing the adjunct union at 6:40 a.m. the morning of the planned strike.

The university's plans for the adjunct strike - obtained by WSN at the time - offer information on how the university might deal with a possible graduate student strike.

In 2004, in the event of a strike, the university intended "to have full-time faculty pick up where adjuncts left off, follow the course syllabus and continue the course until and/or if the adjunct returns."

By inputting class rosters, syllabi, assignments, exams, grades and other materials into Blackboard, a web-based teaching tool accessed through NYUHome, a substitute instructor would be poised to continue the class where the adjunct left off, according to the plan. The plan also made provisions for collapsing multiple recitations into fewer larger ones, videotaping lectures and canceling certain classes and rescheduling them for the fall.

The university also said it would consider funding alternate teaching locations for full-time faculty unwilling to cross picket lines - an offer it has yet to officially make this time.

No such contingency plan has yet been proposed by the university, though graduate students will start voting on the possibility of a strike today.

There are also other several key differences between the near strike by adjuncts and the impending graduate students' strike. The adjuncts's union was in negotiations with the university, whereas now, the graduate students' union is trying to get the university to recognize it so it can continue to exist. The graduate students would strike to force the university to reopen negotiations.

If the university plans to initiate a strategy similar to that of the adjunct strike, they may encounter difficulty in finding tenured professors to undertake graduate teaching responsibilities, said Stephen Duncombe, a Gallatin professor and the membership director and treasurer of the American Association of University Professors.

"Most people aren't willing to do it," Duncombe said. "[The university] may find some of their stars jumping to Harvard or Columbia."