October 26, 2018: Columbia tries again to stop our democratic mandate to for a Union. Click to read the letter
Columbia launched another effort to avoid bargaining with our union by filing a “request for review” asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC to reverse the recent certification of our union by the regional NLRB in New York City. In the mean time our historic election in the first private university in the country gained national press attention as well as support from elected leaders right here in New York City.
October 10: 18 members of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council urge President Lee Bollinger to respect our Union. Click to read the letter
We joined Ben Kallos in delivering a letter signed by 18 members of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council to President Lee Bollinger urging the University to respect our 68% mandate for collective bargaining and to bargain with the GWC-UAW Local 2110 Graduate Workers of Columbia.
Leading to the election we hold Town Halls and hundres of conversation across campus and finally on October 2nd and 3rd we voted by an overwhelming 68% (729-yes to 339-no), in favor of Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-UAW as our union.
September 2018: The NLRB set dates for our election on unionization. Click to read the full NLRB decision.
The regional NLRB rejected Columbia’s attempt to deny more than 1,000 of us the ability to vote at all, and further agreed with our proposal for Postdoctoral Research Scientists/Scholars/Fellows and Associate Research Scientists/Scholars to vote on and be represented together in the same union
Two postdoctoral researcher witnesses give testimony about their experiences at Columbia showing the common conditions and nature of our work whether we are classified as Postdoctoral Research Scientists/Scholars, Postdoctoral Research Fellows or Associate Research Scientists/Scholars.
August 2018: Columbia Argues that Postdoctoral Researchers are not employees at the NLRB. Click to read their “proof”.
Columbia attempted to schedule additional hearing time to put on evidence and testimony to support their argument that Postdoctoral Research Scientists (PDRS) and Postdoctoral Research Fellows (PDRF) are not employees and should be denied the right to a union.
After a strong majority of postdoctoral researchers from across Columbia’s numerous campus’s signed up for the union, CPW-UAW filed to have an election with the National Labor Relations Board.
Often, postdoctoral researchers do not have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other researchers outside their labs or field. CPW-UAW hosted a BBQ to facilitate the cross campus conversation about how having a voice can create more stability in researchers working conditions to facilitate the ability to focus more on science and research.
NYC’s Pride march is a celebration of the history of LGBTQ struggles in the U.S. We were excited to have marched with the Graduate Workers of Columbia and so many other organizations from across the city who are continuing the fight to end LGBTQ discrimination.
After an overwhelming majority of postdoctoral researchers voted to certify their union at the University of Washington, CPW holds workshops to gather feedback on what issues postdoctoral researchers want to bargain into a fair contract. The organizing committee uses the information from these sessions to develop a bargaining survey to be filled out by postdocs across Columbia. The surveys will generate feedback, concerns and stories that will enable a future elected bargaining committee to negotiate the strongest and most representative contract possible.
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.