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.

Bargaining Goals: We put great effort to incorporate as much feedback as possible into an inclusive set of initial bargaining goals, drawing on surveys by a majority of Postdocs and ARS, electronic feedback, and town halls.  We continue to gather feedback through comments written by Postdocs and ARS as part of the goals ratification process.

Topic-specific working groups: To enable participation moving forward, we have established working groups that will stay in regular contact with the bargaining committee in order to support it through help with research and refining proposals. Please sign up for a working group here.

Open negotiation sessions: While actual negotiation sessions will be between our bargaining committee and the university team, we welcome interested supporters who would like to attend a session—we just ask that you reach out to us in advance at [email protected] to prepare. We plan to bargain throughout the year to achieve the best contract as soon as possible and will post bargaining dates as soon as they are scheduled on our website.

Sidebar conversations: “Sidebar” or off-the-record conversations between our bargaining committee and the administration can be a useful tool at the negotiation table when on-the-record negotiation reaches an impasse. As a committee, we are focused on winning the best possible contract, so we are prepared to use all tools at our disposal, including sidebars. However, we will only use sidebars when the entire bargaining committee is aware of the sidebar and agrees, on the rare occasions when they are necessary.

Bargaining updates: We will provide regular, timely updates on bargaining sessions to keep Postdocs and ARS informed of which proposals are being passed, as well as any progress or challenges in the negotiations.

Regular town-halls: We will host regular town halls to update the unit on our progress, to get feedback on updated proposals and to answer any questions. Participation in these forums by as many postdocs/ARS as possible will be critical – let us know here whether you would be interested in helping spread the word to your lab mates, people on your floor, or more postdocs/ARSes across campus.

Open email communication: Lastly, we will make all efforts to answer any direct emails that you send to us with specific concerns in a timely manner. This includes your reports of unfair labor practices — these will be kept confidential within the Bargaining Committee and we will work with you to help find solutions to these problems. We will also work towards making sure that the contract will prevent those practices in the future.

Data policy: All of the proposals we make to the University will be guided by the responses we collected through the bargaining surveys and the subsequent feedback we have collected through town halls, online, and in person. All personal information and feedback provided to us by postdocs/ARS for the purposes of bargaining effectively with Columbia will be kept strictly confidential within the bargaining committee and its working groups.

Sincerely,

The CPW-UAW Bargaining Committee

Melissa McKenzie

Andrew Zaharia

Hila Milo Rasouly

Sonny Harman

Medini Annavajhala

Tulsi Patel

Steven Cook

Ignacio Hernandez-Morato