CWA Negotiations

An Update on Union Negotiations with the Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Consistent with our mission to foster the intellectual development of our students, Fordham is committed to supporting its graduate students and advancing a new generation of scholars.

Graduate student workers gain valuable, hands-on classroom experience while pursuing their studies, often aided by full-tuition scholarships. The Fordham Graduate Student Workers (FGSW) have affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to represent many of the graduate student workers who are enrolled in Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and perform work for the university associated with their area of study. FGSW is currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement that will set forth the terms and conditions of employment for our graduate student workers.

We share the goal of wanting to continuously improve Fordham's graduate programs and the experience of graduate student workers, and are working hard to reach an agreement on specific contract proposals. Fordham prefers to keep negotiations at the bargaining table; however, the university offers the following so that the Fordham community may be informed of university operations.

Questions? Contact us: [email protected]

Latest Bargaining Session Summary

April 4, 2024: CWA Union Update

A bargaining session was held on 4/4/24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The session began with tentative agreements on discipline and discharge and no strikes or lockouts.  The union presented a counter on health and safety and the university presented a counter on workload. After some discussion, the two parties went into a caucus. Upon returning, the university countered on health and safety and workload. The union presented counters on summer employment, union access, and workload. After another caucus, the union presented another counter on workload. The two parties reached tentative agreements on health and safety and bargaining unit information. After a final caucus, a tentative agreement was reached on workload.

Summaries Archive


  • This negotiation is between Fordham University and the Fordham Graduate Student Workers (FGSW), who are affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). The union represents those graduate students who are enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences who perform work for the university in connection with their studies. 

  • The university and the union are committed to negotiating in good faith to improve the working conditions for graduate student workers in the bargaining unit. These workers are an important resource to the Fordham community, and their work provides a valuable aspect of their professional development.

    The two parties have reached several tentative agreements, which you can find here.


  • Collective bargaining is inherently a time-consuming process. According to Bloomberg Law, 409 days is the average length of negotiations until new union locals and their employer sign an initial collective bargaining agreement — and negotiations in the education sector take even longer, on average. In our case, bargaining commenced in October 2022. Fordham and the graduate student union have met 36 times and decided to increase the negotiation session time from three to five hours in the hopes that this will help move the needle. In hopes of expediting negotiations, Fordham also suggested that we use a Federal Mediator, which the union refused. 

  • The negotiations cover a range of topics related to compensation and working conditions, such as work assignments, teaching resources, international employee rights and protections, discipline and discharge, and the like.

  • The union represents approximately 360 graduate student workers, about 6% of Fordham’s total graduate student population. These workers perform any combination of teaching, grading, assisting with research, etc.

    Of those 360 graduate students, about a third teach undergraduate courses, and those courses make up 7.2% of all courses offered.

  • To be effective in the classroom, graduate student workers may require certain facilities, equipment and materials. Fordham recognizes these needs by providing access to laptops, computer software, smart classrooms and IT support, and, with prior approval, it allows graduate student workers to submit invoices of purchased materials, equipment and services for reimbursement.

  • In the 2023-2024 academic year, Fordham provides many graduate student workers in Arts & Sciences with a full scholarship and a stipend — a benefits package valued at approximately $81,500 in return for nine months of part-time work (capped at 19 hours per week for 9 months). In addition, Fordham subsidizes ⅔ of the graduate students’ healthcare costs. By contrast, the vast majority of Fordham's 7,000 graduate students do not receive full-tuition scholarships and do not have the opportunity to teach.

  • Fordham is eager to reach an agreement with the union on the stipend increase. The union’s most recent proposed stipends range from $46,983.28 to $54,030.78, the equivalent of more than $66.93 to $76.97 per hour. This would exceed market wages for graduate student workers.

  • Fordham and the union reached a tentative agreement on the following additional services for International Students:

    • Providing International Graduate Student Workers with designated employees in the Office of International Services, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Payroll/Accounts Payable to address their needs;
    • A presentation by an immigration attorney on visa-related matters twice a year;
    • A presentation/workshop by an accountant/tax specialist on both NRA and RA tax processes once each year; 
    • An informational Zoom seminar in June or July that includes information on what incoming international graduate students can expect about United States tax issues;
    • An emergency relief fund of $15,000;
    • Reasonable time off without loss of pay in order to attend local visa and immigration proceedings relating to their immigration status.

    International graduate students can seek assistance for any matter, including employment-related concerns, through the Office of International Services, the Dean’s office, HR/payroll, and the Office of Student Life.

  • Fordham appreciates the role its graduate student workers may fill as caregivers. The university will consider scheduling requests arising from childcare concerns and will work to accommodate them when possible. Fordham also offers lactation facilities at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses to support parents.

    We have also agreed to provide a backup/ emergency childcare benefit that will allow graduate student workers up to 3 uses annually either in their homes at a cost of $6/hour or at a designated child care center at $15 per day for one child or $25 for two or three children.

  • Fordham provides parking for all students, faculty, administrators, staff and visitors based on a user fee schedule at our Rose Hill campus. Given our urban location, the university does not have the facilities available to offer unlimited parking at Lincoln Center. Fordham encourages members of our community to use public transit and offers students discounted MetroCards and NJ Transit Passes. The university also encourages other transportation options, such as the Ram Van, for travel between campuses. Although parking is entirely optional, the university has also offered a subsidy to help defray the cost of parking on campus.

  • The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers students funding packages when they are admitted. These packages generally include a full-tuition scholarship, a stipend, and, if the graduate student worker chooses to participate, a contribution toward the Fordham Student Health Insurance Plan. The packages set forth the precise number of years of funding, with renewal contingent upon, among other factors, meeting GSAS standards for satisfactory academic performance and progress and adherence to university policy. When those contingencies are met, the stipend for graduate students increases as they remain enrolled in their program.