During many months of bargaining, we have made strong proposals to guarantee dignified compensation and equity in the workplace, but progress is being thwarted by the Columbia administration’s unlawful conduct and lack of engagement in our contract negotiations. We have had over 20 bargaining sessions where we have negotiated in good faith and made many concessions. Admin moved slowly and made it clear from the beginning that they did not want to make too many changes to our contract. Then after the contract expired on June 30, Columbia blocked any salary raises, despite CPW making it very clear (including by providing a legal memo) that our contract allows individual postdocs/ARSs to agree to negotiation raises over than those stated in the contract (for which we filed grievances and Unfair Labor Practices, see below). Therefore trying to rush us into agreeing to a contract on their terms without making improvements in any of the crucial items that our members identify (see FAQ number 3). Even after the dozens of hours spent making our case to the administration
where we showed countless pieces of evidence, surveys, and testimonials from our members, while not denying there are funds available they continue to claim they can not offer more.
During the 20th session, Admin requested mediation, and we have agreed to conduct mediated sessions since then. You can read the articles and Side Letters that we’ve reached agreement on and the remaining topics that we’re still bargaining here.
Furthermore, as a legally recognized union, Columbia University is legally bound to bargain and interact with the union in fair ways, as defined by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Despite this the university has committed several Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) – meaning actions that violate the NLRA – such that we have had to file formal complaints (details here):
- Blocked any salary raises after the expiration of our contract and until members vote in a new contract. This is despite us offering them in writing that the union will not consider it unlawful to apply any raises agreed between postdocs/ARS and their PIs outside of our contract.
- Failure to provide information required to justify their opposition to our contract demands.
- Failure to engage in our contract proposals by denying us the right to even discuss important topics for a majority of postdocs/ARSs like housing support or childcare.
This type of bad faith conduct cannot go unchecked. We of course hope the University will reverse course and engage in good faith conduct and fix their unlawful actions which will give us a path to a fair agreement for postdocs and ARSs at Columbia. However, we must exercise our right to strike if they continue to not meet their legal obligations to our members.