We have completed tentative versions of 20 articles for our first contract.  We are still negotiating over 8 main articles, with a varying number of outstanding issues within each article.  If the administration team will make proposals that truly acknowledge the value we bring to Columbia, we believe we can reach a fair and full agreement in the near future.  However, their intransigence on numerous issues continues to present obstacles.  See below for an outline of our agreements so far (click on the article for details) and remaining issues.

Unresolved (scroll down for a summary)


Insurance and Other Benefits

Leaves of Absence


Union Security

Management Rights

Duration of Contract



  • 7/1/20—All researchers go to new minimum salary to enhance competitiveness or receive 3.5% increase, whichever greater.
  • 7/1/21 and each year after—Increase to minimum salaries each year comparable to NIH % increase
  • Pay equity for Fellows
  • Anniversary increases of 3.5% each year
  • Longevity increases
  • 7/1/20—new minimum of $60,000 for Postdocs, including Fellows; and $66,100 for ARS.
  • No increase to minimums after 7/1/20
  • No 7/1/20 increase if above minimum
  • 2% anniversary increases after 7/1/21
  • No longevity increases
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Our proposal would ensure that grievances/complaints regarding discrimination and harassment be investigated and addressed in a timely manner, with interim measures during any investigation
  • Clear notification by the University to any complainant about the Union and access to representation
  • Right to appeal to neutral arbitration no later than 60 days after raising grievance/complaint
  • Commitment to include protections against “bullying” developed by campus-wide working group in University policy and our contract.
  • For cases that do not involve Title IX, the University proposal would allow the right to appeal disputes to a neutral arbitrator, but only after completing the University process first, or 180 days, whichever is sooner
  • Right to union representation, but no commitment by the University to notify employees
  • Interim measures not grievable
  • Campus-wide working group makes recommendations on “bullying”
  • Leaves of Absence
  • All employees eligible for 8 weeks paid parental leave upon appointment
  • 5 weeks paid parental leave after one year of employment
  • Insurance and Other Benefits
  • Our proposal would maintain current benefits and employee contribution rates
  • Establish joint Union-University committee to explore savings on health insurance benefits
  • Ensure equal benefits access for Fellows
  • The University proposal retains right to change our benefits if changing for all officers of research
  • Lacks any system for discussion of benefits during life of contract
  • Does not change Fellow benefits
  • Management Rights
  • Columbia can exercise management rights as long as it doesn’t violate our contract
  • The University would retain explicit right to subcontract
  • Union Security
  • Consistent with every other union contract at Columbia, we have proposed a “union shop,” a fair provision where all employees would be obligated to share the cost of representation by paying dues or fees. A union shop is the best way to ensure that we have adequate resources to represent ourselves effectively through our local union into the future
  • The University proposes an “open shop” provision making it more difficult for us to generate adequate resources for representation (office space, staff, grievance filing, arbitrator fees, etc.)
  • Duration
  • What contract length we would support depends on economic and other commitments from Columbia
  • Three-year contract ending June 30, 2023
  • Click on each title to read the Tentatively Agreed contract language

    Discipline and Discharge

    Improves researchers’ security by establishing “just cause” protections against arbitrary discipline or termination. With “just cause” protections, the University would have to establish good cause for a researcher to be fired or disciplined. 

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    Employment Files

    Establishes researchers’ right to access, copy, and add comments to employment files maintained by the University.

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    Health and Safety

    Codifies in our contract the University’s legal obligations regarding health and safety, thereby improving researchers’ ability to protect ourselves from working in unsafe or hazardous conditions including: the right to grieve health and safety problems; the right to relevant health and safety training; provision of proper equipment; protections from being assigned work that poses an immediate danger; provision of proper equipment; protection against retaliation for raising health and safety concerns; and the establishment of a joint Union-University health and safety committee.

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    Intellectual Property and Copyright

    Clarifies that Postdoc and Associate Researchers have rights under the University IP and Copyright policies. Establishes grievable protections against retaliation for pursuing or participating in complaints. Joint Union-Management Committee may explore possible procedures to address authorship disputes.

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    Job Posting

    Ensures that the university will continue following current policy regarding posting of available positions for Postdoctoral and Associate Researchers encouraging transparency and equal opportunity for candidates.

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    Research Integrity

    Clarifies that Postdoc and Associate Researchers have rights under the Research Integrity policy. Establishes grievable protections against retaliation for pursuing or participating in complaints.

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    Ensures that if any provision of the contract is found to be unlawful, the rest of the contract remains in effect and the parties will negotiate with respect to the provision found to be unlawful.

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    Training and Orientation

    The University shall pay associated fees and provide paid time for employees to attend required or supervisor-approved, work-related trainings, orientations, workshops and courses.

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    The University shall provide travel advances, direct travel funding, or timely reimbursement of expenses for required travel; researchers shall also continue to be covered by Travel Accident Insurance.

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    Joint Union-Management Committee

    Establishes a joint committee to meet at least twice per year to discuss matters affecting Postdocs that are not related to any active grievances.

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    Establishes protections against arbitrary, unreasonable work schedules as professional, salaried employees; while our workweek is normally at least 40 hours, schedules must be ”reasonable and related to the research needs” and should allow for weeks less than 40 hours.

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    Workspace and Materials

    Commits the University to provide workspace, facilities, equipment, materials and access to the internet and other network resources necessary to perform assigned duties; also ensures “timely reimbursement” for any employee approved to purchase required materials, equipment or services.

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    Ensures that appointments are normally one year to Associate Research Scientist/Scholar, Postdoctoral Research Scientist/Scholar, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow positions as defined in the current Faculty Handbook; ensures that all researchers receive written appointment notice including basic information about the position, including summary of anticipated duties, URL for benefits information and URL for the Union contract; and commits university to make best efforts to process paperwork in order to avoid delayed pay.

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    Codifies recognition of the Union and describes the unit represented by the Union, consistent with our National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case in 2018; commits the University to continue discussing how the parties can engage in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for individuals who receive no salary or stipend remuneration from the University.

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    Researchers shall be entitled to 14 paid holidays per year, including 2 (Medical Center) or 3 (Morningside) personal days; ensures right to use personal days for religious purposes; establishes right to alternate day off if project requires researcher to work on a holiday.

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    Researchers shall earn 2 days per month of paid vacation, up to 23 days (28 days after 20 years of service), which must be used by June 30 of the year following the year in which it was earned; unused vacation days can be paid out upon  termination of appointment.

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    Professional Development

    The University will maintain support for training and professional development programs. In furtherance of professional development and career goals, researchers will have the right to work with their PI/mentor to develop and discuss an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and the right to receive at least one written performance evaluation within each 12-month period.

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    No Strikes/No Lockout

    During the life of the contract, the Union and University agree they will resolve disputes under the contract through the process in the contract.  To that end, the union agrees that it will not encourage or sanction a strike and the University agrees it will not lock out employees while the contract is in effect.

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    Union Access, Rights and Activity

    This article would help us have a strong union: ensures that Columbia provide our Union with basic information about employees in the bargaining unit; provides Union time and space to orient new employees about their rights under the contract and membership in our Union; provides reasonable time for Postdoc and Associate Researcher union representatives to handle grievances; and provides reasonable time to attend Union meetings.  

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    International Researchers

    This article would establish new rights for international researchers: the right to reasonable paid time off to attend immigration-related proceedings; the University will make reasonable efforts to allow a researcher to work remotely if unable to return to the US for reasons outside their control; the University will hold a position open for at least 60 days in cases where the researcher has been unable to obtain work authorization; the University will make best efforts to work with the Union to help a researcher who has proper visa and work authorization documentation but has been barred entry to the US.

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    Grievance and Arbitration

    This article establishes a timely and fair process for resolving alleged violations of our contract, which gives us equal footing to enforce the terms we negotiate.  While the contract encourages informal resolution of disputes, researchers and the Union also have the right to take an unresolved dispute to a neutral arbitrator if a dispute cannot be resolved at earlier steps of the process.

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