Showing posts with label statement of labor values. Show all posts
Showing posts with label statement of labor values. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NYU's Abu Dhabi Labor Scandal: President John Sexton Should Compensate Exploited Workers From His Own Funds

Yesterday's New York Times reported on New York University's labor scandal in connection with the construction of its new campus at Abu Dhabi.  According to the Times, construction workers, who were largely recruited from East Asia, were crammed into overcrowded living quarters, deprived of their passports, and required to work overtime in order to achieve the wages they had been promised.

Photo credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times       
If the Times report is correct, workers were not paid in accordance with NYU's "statement of labor values, "  which it issued as an explicit assurance that the Abu Dhabi campus would be constructed under fair labor standards. NYU responded to the Times story with a stock apology, but it made no promise to make things right. 

But an apology is not enough. NYU, which has one of the most highly-paid presidents in the country and which charges its students more than $60,000 a year for tuition, room and board, should tap its own resources to compensate workers who were exploited during the construction of NYU's Abu Dhabi campus.

Or better yet, President Sexton should dig into his own pockets to compensate the wronged construction workers.  He is due to get a $2.5 million "length of service" bonus next year, which he really does not need.  After all, President Sexton will receive $800,000 annually for the rest of his life when he retires from NYU.  And he is currently being paid more than $1 million a month to be NYU's CEO.

If President Sexton's $2.5 million bonus were divided among the 6,000 construction workers who were employed on the Abu Dhabi project, each worker would receive a little more than $400.  Four hundred dollars doesn't seem like much to  most Americans, but it represents about a month's wages to the Abu Dhabi construction workers. 

Having President Sexton help pay to make things right seems fair to me.  The construction of NYU's Abu Dhabi campus was an act of hubris and pride on President Sexton's part.  Giving up his extravagant bonus to help right the wrongs in Abu Dhabi would be a humble gesture, and  a touch of humility would do John Sexton good.


Ariel Kaminer. N.Y.U. Apologizes to Any Workers Mistreated on Its Abu Dhabi Campus. New York Times, May 20, 2014, p A16.