Union value is one of the first lessons taught at New York University thanks to the activism of the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Technical Staff and other campus bargaining units. For the last few years, the Coalition for Labor Action by Workers and Students, a campus-wide NYU pro-labor coalition group with representatives from graduate, undergraduate, faculty, staff and union groups, have hosted campuswide “teach-ins” at the start of the fall and spring semesters.
“Teach-ins are an opportunity for each union to send a representative to tell students about their union, the members they represent and any issues impacting their union,” explained Stephen Rechner, president of UCATS, which represents 1,200 members at NYU.
As part of his presentation Rechner brings copies of the group’s contract to help students understand the value of union representation and see what a contract looks like. “When you’re not in a union it can be difficult to understand what a union contract is,” said Rechner, a NYSUT Board member. “It’s important to put a contract in their hands to show them that it’s a readable document and explain how important it is for members to read their contract and understand their rights and benefits.”
Last year roughly 100 students attended the teach-ins.