CPW-UAW participated in the NYC March for Science. In 2017 we marched with Columbia graduate workers in the first ever March for Science in Washington, DC, where over 1 million people around around the world who came together to advocate for science and to encourage bi-partisan, evidence-based policy-making. In 2018, we marched in NYC to hold our elected officials accountable for enacting transparent policies rooted in scientific understanding. create better domestic and international policies that are equitable, fair, and empowering to all people.
By forming a union, we not only can negotiate improvements to postdoc working conditions at Columbia, but can also join together with others to pursue a more just society. In 2018, postdocs joined the New York City march to honor International Women’s Day, a day each year when women and others around the world come together to celebrate the struggles to advance women’s cultural, social and political equality. We marched alongside colleagues from GWC-UAW. One of the many reasons that postdoctoral researchers and graduate workers have formed unions is to negotiate stronger protections against sexual harassment and discrimination at Columbia.
With hundreds of postdoctoral researchers signed up for CPW-UAW , postdocs come together for another set of town halls to learn more about academic workers across the United States have benefited from forming unions. Postdocs learn more about the growing wave of postdoc unions across the US, including UAW Local 5810, which represents 7,000 postdocs at the University of California and Lawrence berkeley National Lab, as well as postdoc unions at UMass, UConn Health Center, Rutgers, University of Oregon, and University of Alaska. By this time, the campaign by postdocs at the University of Washington has gained major momentum
CPW hosts a new round of town halls for postdocs to discuss how the campaign is going and to continue sharing thoughts about issues that could be addressed through collective bargaining. Postdocs also begin to discuss the process of unionizing from the card campaign all the way through voting to approve a first contract with Columbia. And postdocs from the University of California skype into the town halls to discuss their success organizing and negotiating improvements through their union.
After dozens of meetings and hundreds of conversations about why postdocs want a union, supportive postdoctoral researchers from all across Columbia decide to start a union card signing campaign and name the union Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-UAW CPW-UAW. By this point, postdocs have identified a wide array of improvements they would like to pursue through having a union, such as: stronger systems of recourse for addressing sexual harassment and discrimination; expanded access to paid parental leave; fair grievance procedures, salary increases that keep up with the cost of living in New York City and competitor research institutions; and improved health benefits. Postdoctoral researchers engage in hundreds more conversations about how forming a union can enable a stronger, more democratic process to pursue improvements in all these areas.
As postdocs continue discussing unionization, they increasingly participate in joint activities with supporters of Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW (GWC-UAW) such as attending the March for Science in DC.
Postdocs at Columbia begin discussing forming a union and hold open Town Halls in early July 2017. Based on the success of graduate student workers and support staff on campus, as well as the success of postdocs at the University of California, Columbia postdocs reach out to the UAW to learn more and ask for support.
Inspired by the success of other postdocs who unionized, such as those at the University of California and University of Massachusetts, Columbia postdocs on various parts of campus start discussing the possibility of organizing a union.