Only a union with collective bargaining rights has the power to negotiate a binding contract with an employer as equals. With a union, postdocs elect representatives to negotiate on equal footing with the Columbia University Administration for improvements. The postdoc union at the University of California (UAW Local 5810) has used their collective bargaining rights to improve their wages, guarantee annual wage increases, secure paid parental leave, improve job security through longer appointments, improve protections from discrimination and sexual harassment, secure career development support, and more. Without collective bargaining, the university has unilateral power to change our working conditions or decide whether or not to make improvements.
Additionally, as more postdocs form unions, like at the University of Washington, we will have a stronger voice to advocate on broader issues such as increasing public investment in research, better visa and immigration policies for international postdocs, and better working conditions for all researchers.