December 2011
November 23, 2011

NYU workers protest contract demands

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: UCATS President Stephen Rechner, left, leads a rally to protest NYU's proposal to cap wages and hike insurance costs. To view the video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhbTy-gapfM.

Workers at New York University are speaking out against a proposed contract that would freeze wages and significantly hike employee health insurance premiums, despite successive years of profit at the school.

The United Clerical, Administrative and Technical Staff of NYU, which represents some 1,400 employees, rallied for several hours last month to show their dissatisfaction with the university's offer.

"NYU had a $114 million profit last year — $53 million the previous year — and they have proposed health insurance cost increases as high as 27 percent for family coverage. And that's just the monthly premiums," said UCATS President Stephen Rechner, who is also a NYSUT Board member. "They also proposed increasing co-payments 100 percent, adding 10 percent coinsurance to HMO plans, and substantial increases in prescriptions." The UCATS contract expired Oct. 31.

Rechner said the university's proposal includes a wage freeze the first year, followed by increases between 2 and 2.5 percent the next two years. The raises, Rechner said, "wouldn't begin to cover the health insurance cost increases."

While there has been no progress in negotiations, Rechner said the UCATS members are united and have become increasingly active. During one negotiating session, more than 125 UCATS members "respectfully, but forcefully" told NYU negotiators how the health insurance proposal would affect their families. "It must have had an impact," said Rechner, "because NYU's lead negotiator informed us the following day that he was 'going on vacation.'"