As we move closer to negotiations with Columbia, we want to take a moment to describe our vision of how we hope to promote a democratic and representative process by ensuring the ability of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists to stay informed and participate in the process of winning a fair contract.
Negotiating a first contract can be a time-consuming and challenging process involving conflicting proposals and pushback from the university on the way toward a final agreement. In order to win the strongest possible contract, we know from our colleagues at other universities that it will be critical that Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists (ARS) participate actively in the process. We therefore plan to utilize multiple strategies to enable Postdocs and ARS to stay informed and to participate. Participation through a variety of actions will strengthen our negotiations and help us win a fair agreement, so we can all vote to ratify it and endorse it.
Some of the strategies include:
making effective use of confidential feedback received from members to aid us in bargaining,
establishing topic-specific working groups to work with the bargaining committee,
coordinating with interested members to observe bargaining sessions,
tactical use of sidebar conversations,
regular bargaining updates and town hall meetings,
As we prepare to begin negotiations with the Columbia administration at the end of February, please join our fellow unionized workers at Columbia, the nurses at New York-Presbyterian/CUMC Hospital, this Wednesday, February 13th from 11:30-2:30, for an informational rally as they continue their fight for a fair contract.
Milstein Hospital: 177 Fort Washington Ave, New York, NY 10032 (between 165th and 168th St).
Allen Hospital: 5141 Broadway, New York, NY 10034 (at 220th St.)
Nurses at Columbia have been working without a contract since last December. This public event is the next step in their fight for a fair contract that can better protect nurses, their patients and the entire community at Columbia, including ensuring safe staffing ratios, an issue that Presbyterian has so far been unwilling to negotiate over.
We are currently voting on our bargaining goals that have been developed through a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists filling out bargaining surveys. The Bargaining Committee unanimously endorses the initial bargaining goals and urges everyone to ratify them so that we will have as much power as possible during the negotiations for our first contract to improve our working conditions.
Important Action Needed to Protect Title IX:
Currently, the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is trying to weaken protections against sexual assault and harassment (also known as Title IX protections). These changes would represent a huge step backwards in ending the crisis of sexual harassment in higher ed. They would make it much harder for survivors to come forward, are a direct attack on equality in education, and would disproportionately harm women of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are at the highest risk of sexual violence.
The proposed changes include:
Narrowing the definition of sexual harassment so institutions would take action on fewer cases;
Making it more difficult to find perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment guilty by allowing schools to adopt higher standards of proof than currently in place;
Subjecting survivors to painful and traumatic hearings that will likely decrease the (already low) reporting rate.
Want to make your voice heard? The proposed regulations have not gone into effect yet, and you have until tonight January 30, 2019 at 11:59PM EST to submit a comment expressing your concerns with the proposed regulations.
2. Draft your comment. Write a brief introduction of yourself, and if you have experience with the Title IX complaint process and you’re comfortable sharing your story, consider telling your powerful firsthand account.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these new regulations to Title IX that would change how schools are required to handle incidents of sexual harassment and violence. I am a graduate student at Columbia University concerned that the proposed changes will make it much harder for survivors to come forward, represent a direct attack on equality in education and would disproportionately harm women of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are at the highest risk of sexual violence.
Many studies have found widespread sexual harassment and discrimination in academia, and this is a major contributor to the persistent loss of women and people of color, especially in STEM fields. Some alarming facts illustrate how serious the problem of sexual harassment and assault in higher education is: Half of women in science have experienced harassment or assault, according to a July 2018 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Academia remains second to only the military in the rates of sexual harassment.
Title IX is critically important legislation that must be strengthened, rather than weakened, so that those who experience sexual harassment and sexual violence do not fear coming forward, and find recourse that enables them to stay in their education and career paths. My concerns with the proposed regulations are as follows:
By narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, institutions will only be required to take action on the most extreme cases. In contradiction to the purpose and intent of Title IX, the proposed regulations restrict a recipient’s duty to respond based upon “actual knowledge,” narrows the very definition of “sexual harassment,” and then only requires the recipient to show more than “deliberate indifference” to actually address the allegations. These proposed regulations completely eviscerate any possibility for a victim to have effective relief at the outset. (Proposed Section 106.44)
Allowing schools to adopt higher standards of proof lowers the likelihood that an accusation could be sustained. The “preponderance of the evidence” is the correct standard in Title IX cases, and a “clear and convincing” evidence standard values potentially keeping someone on campus who may have engaged in sexual harassment, sexual violence, or other sexual misconduct, over protecting someone who may be a victim of the same. (Proposed section 106.45(b)(4)(i))
Allowing people accused of harassment to cross-examine their accuser can be hugely re-traumatizing for victims of harassment and assault. The requirements for a live hearing and subjecting complainants to potential cross-examination by attorneys is unnecessary to gather relevant evidence and possibly detrimental to effectuating the purpose of Title IX, especially for victims who might choose not to report for fear being subjected to an onslaught of highly invasive questions by an experienced attorney. (Proposed section 106.45(b)(3)(vii))
I urge you to reconsider these proposed changes and protect Title IX as a strong tool in the fight against sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any gender-based discrimination that may deny a person access to educational benefits and opportunities.
As the bargaining committee, we urge you to ratify the initial bargaining goals so that we have as much power as possible during the negotiations for our first contract to improve our working conditions.
We used feedback from bargaining surveys filled out by a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists, and from in-person discussions during town halls to develop these goals. These goals are purposely ambitious and broad, based on a conceptual agenda that includes all the issues raised throughout our campaign. In the coming month, the bargaining committee, in collaboration with Postdoc/ARS working groups, will prepare specific proposals that address each of these goals. We are very excited to rely on these goals, and your continued feedback, to guide us as we develop concrete contract language on all of these topics through negotiations with Columbia.
With participation and support from a strong majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists across campus, we hope to improve the experience of postdoctoral researchers in ways that help us excel in our research, while also making the University more accessible, inclusive, and competitive by securing essential workplace protections and benefits such as: fair pay, professional development rights, affordable health benefits, paid parental and maternity leave, longer job appointments, stronger protections from sexual harassment, and more.
We remain committed to being responsive to the priorities and needs of everyone in the union, so if you have any additional feedback or suggestions about how to achieve the listed goals please include it in the comment box that is on the ballot. You can also reach the bargaining committee directly at [email protected]
Starting next week, we will begin voting to ratify these bargaining goals. This is an opportunity to show Columbia that we are continuing to build upon the power we demonstrated when we overwhelmingly voted 68% ‘yes’ for our union despite the universities attempt to have us vote ‘no’. The more people that participate in this vote, the more power we will have to negotiate a strong contract.
Our bargaining committee has developed a set of initial goals based on a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists (ARS) filling out the bargaining survey for the upcoming negotiations with the administration. These initial bargaining goals are broad and inclusive to enable us to pursue a wide array of potential improvements in our first contract. Read and give feedback on the initial bargaining goals here.
Because your voice is important we will be holding several town halls during the week of January 21st in order to discuss and further shape our bargaining goals. Lunch will be provided.
Jerome L. Greene: Wednesday, 1/23 JLG Rm. L7-119 2:00-3:00pm
CUMC: Thursday, 1/24 ICRC Rm. 117 12:00-1:00pm
We will have the opportunity to vote in favor or against the bargaining goals in late January and early February before we begin negotiations.The more people that participate in this vote, the more power we will have to negotiate a strong contract. Please come to help shape our bargaining platform.
We also want to encourage all interested Postdocs and ARS to get involved in our organizing committee as we move forward. We will create specific working groups (parents, international researchers, etc) to help the bargaining committee address our issues at the bargaining table.
As we start 2019, we are excited to provide an update about next steps moving toward bargaining with Columbia in late February.
FURTHER FEEDBACK ON BARGAINING AGENDA
Thanks again to all who have done our bargaining survey.
With survey responses from a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists (ARS), we have started developing a set of initial bargaining goals. You can also provide further feedback by filling out ournew comment form on our website. In order to gather more feedback prior to voting on the bargaining goals, we will hold several town hall meetings during the week of January 21st.
You will have the opportunity to vote in favor or against the bargaining goals in late January and early February.
We are very excited that a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists have completed the CPW-UAW bargaining survey.
After Postdoctoral Researchers and Associate Research Scientist voted 68% yes to certify our union, Columbia offered a framework agreement to begin bargaining. CPW-UAW members voted to ratify that agreement by 95% and we are excited to begin negotiating our first contract in February of 2019.
Based on the feedback received from the bargaining surveys, our elected bargaining committee is now developing initial bargaining goals, outlining the improvements that our union will fight for in our first contract. We will all have the opportunity of give feedback and vote on the goals in the new year.
This is a very exciting step forward. After postdoctoral researchers ratified Columbia’s proposed framework to bargain by 95% in accordance with the agreement, we are getting prepared to begin bargaining by February 25th.
Next week we will be hosting two town halls to answer any questions that postdoctoral researchers and associate researcher scientists and scholars have about the process, discuss next steps, and give everyone a chance to meet members of the newly elected bargaining committee.
We are excited to announce that after much debate both Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-UAW (CPW) and Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW (GWC) voted to ratify the proposed bargaining framework from Columbia. CPW cast 504 ballots, 450 yes, 25 no and 29 challenges. GWC cast 1975 ballots, 1035 yes, 720 no and 220 challenges.
According to the framework, this means that Columbia will withdraw its request for review against our union, as well as its implicit threat to the rights of postdocs and graduate workers to unionize nationally, and begin contract negotiations no later than February 25th, 2019. It also means that, so long as Columbia bargains in good faith, we agree not to strike until April 6th, 2020. This is a massive victory for our union for which we should feel duly proud.
During the past week there was much discussion over Columbia’s proposal and the best way to get the administration to bargain fairly with our unions. Given Columbia’s seventeen years of opposition to graduate worker unionization, and the legitimate distrust of their intentions that this has caused, the outcome of GWC’s vote represents graduate workers’ enduring resolve to improve conditions at Columbia. While we commend this first step Columbia has made towards engaging in bargaining, it is clear that Columbia must work to improve its trustworthiness at the bargaining table.
Ultimately, this vote confirms that both CPW and GWC are committed to moving forward and negotiating good contracts. We won this result by building power through our vote and GWC’s strike, as well as years of organizing by both unions, and we are confident that we can use that same power to win a fair contract.
We hope this is the start of constructive negotiations. We will be in touch soon about steps in preparations for bargaining.