Our Contract is 1 year old 🎉 

What are your priorities for Year 2?

As we mark the one year anniversary of our first contract (also the first-ever contract for Postdocs at a private university!), we wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on how far we have come through our collective efforts to build a strong union, with hundreds of new members across Columbia. Check out a side-by-side comparison of the rights we won in our contract.

As a reminder our July membership meeting is tonight at 8:30pm. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

To celebrate our anniversary we will be tabling with food and coffee on campus this week – come and talk with your union colleagues, get questions answered, offer feedback, and pick up a Union T-Shirt! 

  • Morningside Campus – Wednesday, July 21 from 4:30-6pm in front of Low Library
  • Medical Campus – Friday, July 23 from 12pm-1:30pm at Haven Plaza

Successfully Enforcing Our Rights

Through our union we have assisted over 100 researchers with workplace issues and grievances, both covered by our contract and not. If you ever have a question or concern at work, get in touch with your Union Steward, or fill out a workplace issue form

  • Pay Raises

Our contract increased minimum salaries for postdocs to the highest in New York City and guaranteed that everyone gets at least a 2.5% raise every fiscal year starting this July. Throughout the year we have been working with Postdocs/ARS and the administration to ensure that our new salaries are correctly implemented. We will continue to work to make sure everyone receives the raises guaranteed in our contract. 

  • Paid Time Off

Our contract codified 23 paid vacation days per fiscal year, with back pay for days not used at the end of an appointment. We have been working with unit members to ensure that these rights are enforced. A member shares how the new policy affected him over the past year:

Winning New Rights

  • University-wide protections against power-based harassment or bullying 

Thanks to our campaign for a fair contract, the university recognized – for the first time – that bullying and power-based harassment is a big problem in academia. Columbia agreed to establish a university-wide working group with our union to recommend a  new policy for these cases. We expect these discussions to start within the month! Our anti-bullying working group has developed a survey to gather data about types of bullying behaviors at Columbia. Check your inbox for a personalized link, with the subject “Survey on Power-Based Harassment

  • Making Columbia a More Family Friendly Place for Research

Our contract established guaranteed parental leave for any new parent (in addition to the medical leave of the birth mother) including for Postdoctoral Research Fellows – here’s how one member described utilizing this new right:

  • Parents Working Group and Emergency Childcare

During COVID-19 however, parents faced new challenges as schools closed. Researchers advocated relentlessly for increased childcare benefits, circulating a petition, making phone calls to the Provost, publishing an op-ed, and organizing delegations to university decision-makers. We won an additional crisis care benefit of $1,000 that  parents could use for out-of-pocket child care costs during the pandemic, but much more is needed. As we begin our second year, our Parents Working Group wants to start making links to other researchers in New York so we can advocate for better childcare for working parents across the city.

  • Inclusion, Equity and Affirmation of all Genders

We continue to seek ways to join the fight for greater diversity, equity, inclusion and visibility at Columbia. Certain gender-affirming surgeries that are crucial for transgender workers will not be covered under Columbia’s health care plans until January 2022. Delaying these kinds of surgeries has been shown to have a negative effect on mental health and it is important that workers can access this treatment as soon as possible. It is important that we make sure Columbia follows through on implementing these crucial changes to make the university more inclusive, and help any worker that wants assistance before January. If you would like to be part of these efforts, please reply to this email or join our working group on this topic

Political Engagement

We partnered with other UAW Academic Locals to ensure that the voice of researchers is heard loud and clear nationally. There are more than 100,000 academic workers across the country who are represented by UAW, and in the past year we raised our collective voice to:

Make our Union Even Stronger!

Want to help improve the Postdoc/ARS experience at Columbia? Send an email to columbiapostdocunion@gmail.com,  join a working group, or fill out this form and an organizer will reach out!.

And, if you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to let us know what you’re most excited to improve or protect at Columbia through your union: What are your priorities for Year 2?

In solidarity,

CPW-UAW Local 4100 Executive Board

P.S. – To stay informed about our union, make sure to follow us on SlackTwitter and Facebook!