NYUAD Needs to be Proactive about Fair Labor Standards on Saadiyat Island

May 16, 2014

Dear President Sexton and Vice Chancellor Al Bloom,

We, the undersigned students and faculty, call on you to take steps to resolve the NYU community’s ongoing concerns about the rights and conditions of migrant workers in the UAE.

In light of recent reports documenting violations of NYU’s Statement of Labor Values and UAE labor law, the Coalition for Fair Labor urges NYU to alter its monitoring arrangements and devote resources to protecting workers’ rights in the UAE. Although construction of NYUAD’s Saadiyat Island campus is almost complete, the building of other cultural and educational institutions on the island will continue for the next twenty years. Now that the NYU name is established in the UAE, we believe that our university has a responsibility to help address the formidable challenges confronting the heavily indebted workers who are laboring to realize the larger Saadiyat vision.

Over the last four years, Human Rights Watch, Gulf Labor, The Guardian, and other independent investigators have found violations on the NYUAD project that Mott MacDonald failed to detect through its auditing practices. In 2008, the Coalition for Fair Labor advised the administration against the appointment of Mott MacDonald. Among the firm’s conflicts of interest was a 27 billion-dollar contract to oversee the power and water distribution systems on Saadiyat Island. As before, we ask that NYU hire a truly independent, third-party monitor, such as the Workers Rights Consortium (of which NYU is a member) to monitor the workforce operating and maintaining the new campus. NYU’s name cannot afford to be further tarnished by inattentive monitoring.

Second, we ask that NYU publicly release a code of conduct for all migrant domestic workers that are employed by NYUAD faculty, staff, and students. Domestic employees currently have no legislative labor protections in the UAE, and organizations like Human Rights Watch have documented their pervasive abuse and mistreatment.

Finally, we ask that NYU utilize its student and faculty resources to develop research initiatives aimed at eliminating the hardships imposed on migrant workers by the kafala system. NYU can set a visible academic example by suggesting policy for reforming the current sponsorship system, with a view to ensuring that the welfare and the rights of migrant workers in the UAE are better upheld. We ask, in particular, that NYU devote resources to implementing the recommendations made by Gulf Labor in its May 2014 report, including, but not limited to, payment of a relocation fee for workers to settle their recruitment debts; formation of workers’ councils at NYUAD and on the surrounding island projects; establishment of a Saadiyat Island living wage to enable workers to select accommodation of their choosing; and cooperation with the ILO to help design and implement these and other recommendations.

We commend the administration’s recent decision to break ties with VF Corporation/Jansport given its commitment to supporting the highest global labor standards. In the same spirit, we urge to ensure that NYU take a proactive role in the field of human rights as a way of fulfilling its academic mission abroad.


Kristina Bogos, College of Arts and Science 2015

Edward Radzivilovskiy, Global Liberal Studies 2015

Emma Dolhai, Tisch School of the Arts 2016

Linnea Gregg, Tisch School of the Arts 2015

Isabelle Galet-Lalande, NYU Abu Dhabi 2016

Victor R. Li, Steinhardt 2015

John Archer, English

Paula Chakravarty, Gallatin

Stephen Duncombe, Gallatin

Jeff Goodwin, Sociology

Christine Harrington, Politics

Rebecca Karl, History and East Asian Studies

Marie Monaco, School of Medicine

Anna McCarthy, Cinema Studies

Mary Nolan, History

Andrew Ross, Social and Cultural Analysis

Kristina Mayman, College of Arts and Science 2015

Daniel Huang, Stern School of Business 2014

Carlos Estevez, College of Arts and Science 2014

Linda Gordon, History

Lisa Duggan, Social and Cultural Analysis

Ritty Lukose, Gallatin

Dan Polan, Cinema Studies

Manu Goswami, History

Christy Thornton, History

Timothy Reiss, Comparative Literature

Emanuela Bianchi, Comparative Literature

Vasuki Nesiah, Gallatin

Miriam Frank, Global Liberal Studies

Ara Merjian, Associate Professor of Italian and Art History

Mark Miller, Media, Culture, and Communication

Tavia Nyong’o, Performance Studies

Dean Saranillio, Social and Cultural Analysis

Carol Krinsky, Art History

George Shulman, Gallatin

Bertell Ollman, Politics

Angela Zito, Anthropology

Jim Uleman, Psychology

Sinclair Thomson, History

Sylvia Molloy, Spanish and Portuguese

Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Gallatin

Avital Ronell, German

Marita Sturken, Media, Culture, and Communication

David Margolies, English

Nancy F. Regalado, French

Despina Lalaki, Hellenic Studies

Hansell Patterson, Social Work

Chat Gunter, Film and Television

David Greenberg, Sociology

Jini Watson, English

Greg Londe, Irish Studies

Zachary Lockman, Middle Eastern Studies

Max Holleran, Sociology

Seung-hoon Jeong, NYU Abu Dhabi, Cinema Studies

James Polchin, Global Liberal Studies

Adam Becker, Classics

Greg Grandin, History

Faye Ginsburg, Anthropology

Patricia Crain, English

Tejaswini Ganti, Anthropology

Elaine Freedgood, English

Martha Hodes, History

Patrick Deer, English

Michele Mitchell, History

Sally Guttmacher, Health Studies

E. L. Doctorow, English

Richard Sennett, Sociology

Todd Ayoung, Art and Public Policy

Karl Appuhn, History

Rayna Rapp, Anthropology

Randy Martin, Art and Public Policy

Arang Keshavarzian, Middle Eastern Studies

Barbara Weinstein, History

Yukiko Hanawa, East Asian Studies

Brett Gary, Media, Culture, and Communication

Amir Minsky, NYU Abu Dhabi, History

Emily Martin, Anthropology

Nadrian Seeman, Chemistry

Judith Green, Teaching and Learning

Chris DiNardo, College of Arts and Science 2014

Lynn Bernabei, College of Arts and Science 2014

Despina Kiskinis, Steinhardt 2015

Kira Haag, College of Arts and Science 2015

Connor Pearce, NYU Abu Dhabi 2017

Davit Avoyan, NYU Abu Dhabi 2016

April Xiong, NYU Abu Dhabi 2014

Muhammed Usman, NYU Abu Dhabi 2017

Lauren Clingan, NYU Abu Dhabi 2017

Bailey Theado, Gallatin 2015

Jonathan Tan, College of Arts and Science 2015

Trisha Goyal, Stern 2015

Lauren Holter, College of Arts and Science 2015

Amy Zhang, College of Arts and Science 2014

Tatiana Baez, College of Arts and Science 2015

Amanda Randone, College of Arts and Science 2014

Madeleine Overturf, College of Arts and Science 2014

Tyler Boothe, NYU Student

Jessica Littman, NYU Student

Michael Meletakos, NYU Student

Robert Ascherman, NYU Student

Anne Falcon, NYU Student

Margaux Aquino, NYU Student

Sofia Ferrandiz, NYU Student

Noah Engel, NYU Student

Do Hyun Kim, NYU Student

Robert Weide, NYU Student

Julie Yoon, NYU Student

Peter Fitzpatrick, NYU Student

Jessica Feldman, NYU Student

Andrew Bauer, NYU Student

Debashree Mukherjee, NYU Student

Kartik Nair, NYU Student

Darach Miller, NYU Student

Tiana Hayden, NYU Student

Daniel Aldana Cohen, NYU Student

Linnea Hussein, NYU Student

Max Besbris, NYU Student

Schneur Newfield, NYU Student

Stuart Schrader, NYU Student

Michael Gould-Wartofsky, NYU Student

Adaner Usmani, NYU Student

Leo Goldsmith, NYU Student

Alexandra Cubaleski, NYU Student

Hadi Gharabaghi, NYU Student

Taylor Edelhart, NYU Student

Karan Mirchandani, NYU Student

Arun Manikundalam, NYU Student

Sundus Arain, NYU Student

James Amidon, NYU Student

Sina Mehdian, NYU Student

Dorothy Lam, NYU Student

Raquel Ortega, NYU Student

Michelle Thompson, NYU Student

Rachel Lepore, NYU Student

Selin Sahin, NYU Student

Anastasia Moryakova, NYU Student

Rosanna Rodriguez, NYU Student

Yasmin Siddiqui, NYU Student

Anna Yulsman, NYU Student

Maryam Rasheed, NYU Student

Amanda Kraley, NYU Student

Valerie Kipnis, NYU Student

Caitlin MacLaren, NYU Student

Julia Yanoff, NYU Student

Danielle Eagan, NYU Student

Alyssa Hornyak, NYU Student

Judy Dang, NYU Student

Rachel Yanger, NYU Student

Alyssa Smith, NYU Student

Julian Gonzalez, NYU Student

Grant Roth, NYU Student

Jessica Powell, NYU Student

Haley Houseman, NYU Student

Kyle Rogers, NYU Student

Kaitlin Noss, NYU Student

Claudie Bernard, French

John Maynard, English

Kimberly Phillips-Fein, Gallatin

Nikhil Singh, Social and Cultural Analysis

Thuy Linh Tu, Social and Cultural Analysis

Rodolfo G. Aiello, Senior Lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese

Marilyn Young, History

Michael Balter, Journalism

Christopher Rzonca, Liberal Studies

Sylvia Gonzalez, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Robert Schaefer, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Marilyn Young, History

William Caspary, Gallatin

Carol Bergman, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Priscilla Karant, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Jean Campbell, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Tanala Osayande, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Toral Gajarawala, English

Elizabeth Olesker, Tisch

Robert Tufts, Business Development

Miriam Basilio, Art History

Ada Ferrer, History

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Media, Culture, and Communication

Paul Thompson, Film and Television

Herrick Chapman, History

Ann Pellegrini, Performance Studies

Sonya Posmentier, English

Judith Stacey, Social and Cultural Analysis

Jini Watson, English

Natan Zeichner, NYU Student

Adrian Dhanaraj, NYU Student

Jessica Kim, NYU Student

Hiranya Nayvar, NYU Student

Madel Beaudouin, NYU Student

Matthew Teng, NYU Student

Luiza Monetti, NYU Student

Earl Co, NYU Student

Sachi Pettit, NYU Student

Jaewon Kang, College of Arts and Science 2014

Kristin Alfaro, NYU Student

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein, NYU Student

Kalliopi Karakasidou, NYU Student

Eliza Lambert, NYU Student

Judith Ratcliffe, NYU Student

Mitchell Kapoor, NYU Student

Alistair Mackay, NYU Student

Cian Dinan, NYU Abu Dhabi

Kaitlin Noss, NYU Student

Nicole Latimer, NYU Student

Ayesha Guerin, NYU Student

Lily Defriend, NYU Student

Brady Fletcher, NYU Student

Sunaura Taylor, NYU Student

Donasia Tillery, NYU Student

Julia Mendoza, NYU Student

Oscar Marquez, NYU Student

James Rodriguez, NYU Student

Rachel Wilson, NYU Student

Jessica Feldman, NYU Student

Karina Hoshikawa, NYU Student

David Hobbs, NYU Student

Mosarrap Khan, NYU Student

Caitlin Hurst, NYU Student

Angela Bennett Segler, NYU Student

Berengere Riou, NYU Student

Ryan Szelong, NYU Student

Emily Lesnick, NYU Student

Alex Alvarez, NYU Student

Bethany Hartzell, NYU Student

Molly Dillon, NYU Student

Fadhl al Eryani, NYU Abu Dhabi student

Claire Voon, NYU Student

Ayreen Anastas, Gulf Labor

Doris Bittar, Gulf Labor

Walid Raad, Gulf Labor

Guy Mannes-Abbott, Gulf Labor

Rene Gabri, Gulf Labor

Marian Ghani, Gulf Labor

Ashok Sukumaran, Gulf Labor

Shaina Anand, Gulf Labor

Hans Haacke, Gulf Labor

Greg Sholette, Gulf Labor

Naeem Mohaiemen, Gulf Labor

Douglas Ashford, Gulf Labor

John Pitman Weber, Gulf Labor

Nitasha Dhillon, Gulf Labor

Our previous petition urging NYU to adopt a fair labor code of conduct can be accessed here.

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