Collective bargaining at other universities has not produced this result. Because all union decisions will be made by postdocs and researchers, we will collectively decide what to ask for in bargaining. And as a union we will have access to Columbia University’s financial information that affects postdocs, which will make it possible for us to be well-informed and conscientious as we engage in bargaining.
It is a common misconception that by bargaining for improved working conditions, unions make it too expensive to employ workers. In reality, higher education unions have advocated for increased higher education and science funding while working for improved working conditions for scientists. As an example, advocacy by the postdoc union at the University of California has resulted in a 25% average wage increase for postdocs since 2010 while at the same time the number of postdocs employed by the University of California has increased from 5800 to 6200 since 2010.
Finally, we have more power to protect jobs through collective action and the protections of a legally binding contract. Most collective bargaining agreements prohibit the employer from terminating positions due to arbitrary or discriminatory reasons, or to take action that is inconsistent with job offers that were accepted by the employee. Not only would we be able to act collectively, but we would have the full backing of the many unionized employees on campus and the larger UAW International Union.