Despite being on the brink of a labor strike on Monday night, reports are now trickling in that New York University and the union representing the school’s graduate students (GSOC) agreed to a tentative collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday morning.  The deal comes in the nick of time, as GSOC members were expected to hit the pickets if a deal had not been reached yesterday.

We had a really strong mandate to strike. We had everything in place, and we had tons of support,” Lily Defriend, a bargaining-committee member and doctoral student in social anthropology, said in an interview. “We would not have settled for anything that we did not think addressed the needs of employees at NYU.”

The deal was reported reached at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning after a tense five-hour negotiating session.  The terms of the five-year deal have not been completely revealed, but reports indicate that Ph.D. students are set to receive a four percent raise.  Furthermore, grad students will receive minimum wage increases of between 2.2 to 2.5 percent each year throughout the length of the contract.

In what is likely the biggest win for the GSOC, NYU agreed to pay almost all of its graduate students’ healthcare premiums.  Also, the university is setting aside funds for the creation of a child-care center.

In a short statement, NYU’s vice president for public affairs lauded the parties’ agreement in principal:

“NYU is very pleased to have come to agreement with the UAW on a tentative contract for graduate student workers.”

Union officials expressed similar sentiments:

[The agreement achieves] “incredibly important gains for those workers in our unit who need it the most: international student employees, graduate workers with families and those paying out of pocket for university health care. We have doubled hourly wages, provided new family health and child care benefits, and gotten health care covered for hundreds more workers.”

This historic agreement, set to be ratified today, may reverberate beyond NYU’s walls.  A Ph.D organizer at the University of Chicago said that the NYU/GSOC agreement has galvanized his own group’s efforts to unionize graduate students at UChi.  Problematically for those grad students though, UChi has not agreed to recognize any grad student union on its campus, nor is it required to do so under current NLRB jurisprudence.

In any event, we will be following any graduate student organizing occurring across the country, so stay tuned to @LRToday for updates.