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Fordham Graduate Student Workers Vote for Strike Authorization

BRONX, N.Y. – Members of the Fordham Graduate Student Workers union (FGSW-CWA Local 1104) have voted by an overwhelming 98 percent supermajority to give union leaders the authority to call a strike if negotiations between FGSW-CWA and university leadership fail to reach a fair settlement. FGSW-CWA union members have spent 19 months negotiating for a union contract as President Tetlow and her bargaining team delay and fail to offer proposals in line with other universities.

“The results of this strike authorization vote show us and the university that workers at Fordham are done waiting for them to meet very reasonable demands,“ said Apa Duenas, a 2nd year in Philosophy and a member of the union bargaining committee. “Our strength lies in our unity, and we’re united in our willingness to walk out and show management who makes this university run.”

Top economic issues include stipends, health insurance subsidies, and the high fees that university management charges to graduate students. Fees can cost student workers 15 percent of their pay, and pay, in real wages, has been cut by 9.5 percent over the last six years. Fordham graduate student workers currently have among the lowest pay in the nation, when adjusted for the local cost of living. Fordham is losing top candidates for its grad programs because of low pay and high fees.

“It is disappointing that a top-ranked Catholic university refuses to recognize the value of our graduate workers when it comes to wages and healthcare in one of the most expensive cities in the country,” said Mike Ippoliti, President of CWA Local 1104. “Our members have been extremely patient through nearly two years of negotiations, but now we are willing to sacrifice and strike, if necessary, for a fair and livable contract.”

“Our members want to keep providing the undergraduate instruction and producing the research that makes Fordham a world-class university,” said Andrew Dobbyn, EVP Education Division of CWA Local 1104. “Unfortunately, Fordham thinks that our labor doesn’t merit a living wage, and our members will not accept unlivable wages.”

“Fordham’s nearly 400 dedicated and talented graduate workers make the University’s programs possible, yet are paid poverty-level wages while living in one of the most expensive cities in the country,” said New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. “They need and deserve better—not only liveable wages, but a comprehensive healthcare plan and teaching resources they don’t have to pay for out of their own pockets. The New York City Labor Movement stands with the members of FGSW-CWA Local 1104, and puts our resources at their disposal as they fight for a fair contract that allows them to continue to support Fordham’s work as a world-class research institution.”

Graduate student workers drive the core academic work of Fordham University, teaching undergraduate classes and conducting research. Both instruction and research would be impacted by a potential strike.

Practice picket lines will begin on Thursday, April 11, at the Rose Hill campus and at Fordham University at Lincoln Center.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields. @cwaunion

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