An Open Letter To Beth Haymaker

Dear Ms. Haymaker,

We, the Student Labor Action Movement have gathered here today shocked and outraged by NYU’s treatment of our fellow student and anti-debt organizer Nia Mirza. We see your action to revoke her previously approved appeal to live off campus due to issues of affordability as nothing other than intimidation and retaliation. As you are most likely very well aware, this summer Nia started a petition demanding that NYU lower the cost of tuition so that it match the price early decision students originally saw when they applied to NYU. Like Nia, we think it is predatory for this administration to be dishonest about the price of this university, especially to students who are bound to NYU since they apply early decision rather than regular decision.

As an NYU administrator and specifically the Director of Global Programs for Liberal Studies we know that you are aware of the difficulties imposed upon international students who are ineligible for government financial aid and thus often the first to succumb to predatory loans. In addition, they are unable to receive employment outside the university, and thus must rely on campus jobs, something not offered at the DC campus where Nia studies. How then in any moral way could you demand that Nia move back onto campus and pay the full cost of NYU housing within 24 hours or withdraw from the university? How then could you deny her request for a few extra days so that she could discuss with her family abroad the situation in which they found themselves? How then could you and your administration be so insensitive and cruel?

At this point, we are simply disgusted and disappointed in NYU. Between the Jack Lew Kick Back Scandal with Chase Bank, the vacation home scandal, use of slave labor for the Abu Dhabi campus, the absurd amounts of money going to the $6 billion expansion plan and top administrator salaries, the refusal for NYU to faithfully implement the new contract approved between it and GSOC, and finally not allowing NYU Divest to present to the board of trustees as promised, we thought NYU would have budged by now. However, no such budging has occurred and our allies have been cruelly toyed with. Repeatedly NYU administration has shown little interest in prioritizing the interests of its students or faculty. Due to our disgust and disappointment with the administration we will no longer stand by as they dismantle the life prospects of individual students with absurd debt and the commodification of education, something that should be considered a right. We have tried demanding an overall solution to little avail. Routinely we have been brushed aside with lies as the administration continues to curtail to the interests of the few rather than the many. We stand here today committed to a single case relating to a single student. We will continue to do so for individual students struggling until we are able to achieve our larger goal and place control of the university where it belongs, in the hands of its students and faculty.

As we read this letter out loud you may be wondering why we have not pursued the “proper channels” for change. It is this reasoning that has constantly lead to NYU directing its security staff to disrupt our actions. In response, we first say to the security staff that we appreciate all the hard work they do despite NYU’s lack of appreciation of them. We read the administration’s efforts as nothing more than the continuous attempt to divide and conquer students and workers. We students love the staff at this university and want to them know we will do everything today to comply to the best of our ability, however we will not be manipulated, we will not be divided and we will not be conquered.

Second though we ask, what proper channels and for whom? Have you forgotten that NYU Divest was promised a meeting with the Board of the Trustee’s only after spending two years going through your proper channel of approaching the university senate? Have you forgotten that two years ago NYU’s university senate promised to cut ties with all companies producing apparel from NYU out of sweatshop in Bangladesh, including JanSport and its Parent Company VF but refused to actually implement their promise? Or have you forgotten that the promise was only fulfilled after SLAM conducted a 6 hour sit-in occupation of the welcome center. These “proper channels” only exist in order to delegitimize the true work of enacting change. Today is a day of action.

We stand here in solidarity with all those across the country struggling to create an economy that works for us all. Fast food workers courageously fought to raise their wage to $15 an hour and won. We are inspired by their example as we press the university to follow in similar suite with its own student workers. Recognizing that the greatest obstacle standing between us and a university that works for us all is our own tenacity and drive to fight for these goals, we proudly proclaim that the students and workers united will never be defeated!

Responding to NYU’s perpetuation of inaccuracies regarding GSOC’s Strike

SLAM is not only disappointed but also outraged by the misinformation being spread by the NYU administration regarding Provost David McLaughlin’s email today at 12:44pm. We are rallying at 4pm in Bobst to demand he meets with students!

You can find his original message here and our response directly below

1. David McLaughlin claims the University recognized the union voluntarily.
The University BUSTED the union in 2005, and only agreed to recognize it again after YEARS of diligent organizing on campus, despite a majority of grad workers repeatedly voting for union representation. 
2. David McLaughlin claims the University has bargained in good faith and intends to continue to do so.
The University was intransigent for almost a year. It recently hired a mediator to help get graduate workers to demand less. Presumably even the mediator was appalled at the University’s behavior. I’ve attended bargaining sessions; the petulance of University bargainers like General Counsel Terry Nolan is shocking and unacceptable.
3. David McLaughlin presents misleading numbers and gives the impression that “fully-funded PhD students” are spoiled crybabies.
First of all, they’re not. Even “fully-funded” PhD students are denied adequate health care, childcare, and benefits. My friend Sean is a fully-funded PhD student in a language department; he recently had to chose between having emergency dental surgery and attending an academic conference. He chose the conference, because he prioritized education over health. He is still living with pain.
Second off all, fully-funded PhD students are only part of the bargaining unit. Hundreds of grad workers have lower paid, precarious positions and those that are international students are banned from working off campus. Masters workers at Poly make less than a living wage, despite being overworked in labs. Some don’t even have a place to stay because their wages are so abysmal.

NYU Students Hold Sit-In, Rally To Cut JanSport: Administrators promise quick response

NYU Student Labor Action Movement sitting-in at the welcome center to get NYU to cut the contract with JanSport
NYU SLAM  sitting-in at the Welcome Center to get NYU to cut the contract with Jan Sport.

After repeated letter deliveries, a die-in, a vigil, a speakout with workers from Bangladesh and a faculty sign-on letter with 60 signatures, members of the NYU Student & Labor Action Movement held a sit-in today to repeat the demand that NYU cut its contract with JanSport over concerns about workers’ rights. Students occupied the Welcome Center from 1 pm to 5 pm, asking the NYU administration to meet with them. At 5 pm, students met with two Senior Vice Presidents, who assured SLAM that a decision will be made early next week.

Throughout the day, 30 students came to the Welcome Center to sing, chant and hand out information to passers-by about the protest. While students occupied the Welcome Center, 200 community members on the Immigrant Worker Justice Tour rallied outside in support of students’ demands.

“We believe cutting our contract with JanSport is necessary until VF does the right thing in Bangladesh,” NYU student Adriana Gonzalez said.

As a subsidiary of VF Corporation, JanSport is connected to VF’s 100 factories in Bangladesh. United Students Against Sweatshops, of which SLAM is an affiliate, has been demanding VF sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in light of recent tragedies in Bangladesh, such as the Rana Plaza collapse. Over 1200 workers have died in industrial disasters in Bangladesh’s garment industry in the last two years.

“We are confident NYU will do the right thing and cut its contract with JanSport,” said NYU student Iraj Eshghi.

Faculty to Sexton: Cut JanSport!

Today, 60 NYU faculty members sent a letter to President JCut JanSportohn Sexton asking the administration to end its contract with JanSport because the brand has failed to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Over 1200 workers have died in the past two years in preventable factory fires and collapses in Bangladesh and the Accord is a legally binding agreement brands can sign to prevent such tragedies.

The NYU administration has maintained that it will not end its contract with JanSport because the brand itself does not produce for NYU in Bangladesh, although JanSport’s parent company has nearly 100 factories there.

Students and faculty agree–these kind of technicalities can’t stand in the way of worker safety. It’s time for NYU to cut JanSport!

Read the full letter.

Continue reading “Faculty to Sexton: Cut JanSport!”

We Demand Solutions to the Student Debt Crisis

Finding solutions to the student debt crisis has to become the number one priority for American universities. American student loan debt exceeds $1.2 trillion. The problem is especially bad at NYU: last year’s graduating class had more collective debt than that of any other non-profit school in the country, with an average of about $35,000 of debt.

Because of its large size, location, and the powerful people associated with it, NYU stands as a model for schools across the country. The question is what trend will NYU set? Will we continue down the path of the corporate university, where education is treated like a commodity reserved for those who can afford it? Or will we make the hard changes necessary to put the needs of students, our families, faculty, and other workers at the center of our education system?

Continue reading “We Demand Solutions to the Student Debt Crisis”

Why undergrads should care about the GSOC election

By Iraj Eshghi

gsoc-voteyesFor too long now, NYU neglected the rights of its graduate students. By refusing to recognize their union–GSOC-UAW–and giving them no say in how things are done, the administration was essentially keeping a large part of their workforce and student body silent. However, we have recently learned that the administration has finally decided to allow GSOC to hold an election, and I, as an undergraduate, find this to be very refreshing. Why? Here are a few reasons: Continue reading “Why undergrads should care about the GSOC election”

Victory! NYU has taken the first step in ending deathtraps

John Sexton’s office has just announced that he’s going to implement the changes in NYU’s code of conduct recommended by the recent University Senate resolution fought for by SLAM. By requiring NYU licensees producing in Bangladesh to sign on to the Accords, we’re helping make garment industry workplaces safer and supporting worker power around the world.

NYU is one of the first schools in the country to commit to making these changes, so we’re helping set an example for colleges across America.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this victory  possible- all the students and other supporters who came out to our letter deliveries, our die-in at the University Senate, our action at one of Sexton’s town halls, and our caroling for workers’ rights event!

SLAM holds ‘die-in’ to End Deathtraps

Students demand NYU take action for Bangladesh factory safety


On Thursday, October 3, ten students from the NYU Student & Labor Action Movement (SLAM) held a die-in outside the University Senate prior to the Senate’s meeting. As the students lay down holding pictures of workers who died in a factory collapse in Bangladesh in April, they had one goal in mind: to insist NYU to take action for workers’ rights now. Over 1100 workers lost their lives when the Rana Plaza building collapsed, and SLAM is currently fighting to make sure something like that does not happen again to the workers who produce the NYU apparel in Bangladesh. To SLAM, the crisis of worker safety in the garment industry has reached a breaking point.

Continue reading “SLAM holds ‘die-in’ to End Deathtraps”

SLAM kicks off the End Deathtraps campaign!

SLAM delivers letter to university


by Cassandra Cassillas for Washington Square News

The NYU Student and Labor Action Movement met in the lobby of Bobst Library yesterday afternoon to deliver a letter to NYU President John Sexton. The 12 students from SLAM were rewarded when the letter [read it!] was personally accepted by Lynne Brown, the senior vice president of university relations.

The letter demanded that NYU ask the brands that produce the university’s apparel to sign the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladeshi factories and to terminate contracts with brands that do not comply.

Continue reading “SLAM kicks off the End Deathtraps campaign!”

Victory for students and workers


By Daniel Hinton

Two years since the closing of the PT Kizone factory, located in Tangerang, Indonesia, Adidas has settled with garment workers and agreed to pay them legally owed severance packages. The details of the settlement remain confidential. According to a news release, Adidas will provide a substantial sum to the former factory workers, who have agreed to drop their lawsuit filed in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison against the company in Wisconsin state courts.

Continue reading “Victory for students and workers”