CPW-UAW, Local 4100 is not just an advocacy organization but a labor union for postdocs and Associate researchers (ARSs) at Columbia university. This means that we are legally recognized as representatives of the postdocs/ARSs at Columbia University.
Postdocs and ARSs run all aspects of the union including serving as members of the bargaining team, elected officers, and volunteer activists. Our economic support comes from postdocs and ARSs at Columbia in the form of membership dues and agency fees.
Unions in the US are a way for workers at a specific workplace to collectivize economic resources to protect and help each other. As individual postdoc/ARSs we are very vulnerable but when joining together as a union we are legally recognized by the US government and are able to address the university on equal footing. That is why back in 2018, inspired by other postdoc unions (like in the University of California, University of Washington etc.) we formed our union here at Columbia, to improve our working conditions and be able to enforce our rights. For background here are some highlights of the changes.