Collective bargaining is a legally-recognized process that equalizes the power relationship between employees and their employer. Under collective bargaining, Columbia postdoctoral researchers would elect representatives to negotiate on equal footing with the Columbia Administration and put the terms of our employment into a legally binding contract. Through collective bargaining, postdoc and graduate employee unions have successfully negotiated improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.
Before we won our union election, Columbia University had unilateral power to change our conditions or decide whether or not to make improvements. For example, Columbia was able to decide unilaterally whether or not to make sure we get paid on time or whether our stipends and salaries keep up with the cost of living in New York City. Now, with collective bargaining, Columbia has a legal obligation to negotiate with us over our working conditions as equals.