Teaching assistants deserve hefty salary increase

More than seven years ago, graduate students serving as teaching assistants at N.Y.U. became the first to win recognition for their union from a private university.  Although their contract expired last August, they have continued to work until now (“ ‘They’re Trying to Bully Us’ : N.Y.U. Graduates Students Are Back on Strike,” The New York Times, May 1). 

But now they are on strike. Who can blame them?  Despite doing much of the work that universities depend on, the starting pay at N.Y.U. is only $20 an hour.  They’re demanding $32 an hour, down from their original demand of $46 an hour.  I say they’re worth every cent.  The truth is that most professors have little interest in teaching undergrad courses.  As a result, teaching assistants teach many sections and grade all tests and papers.

N.Y.U. and other universities both public and private argue that they are students first and workers second.  That may be correct in theory, but in reality they are indispensable to the functioning of higher education in this country.

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