This email is to remind you that on Thursday, January 18th at 6:30 pm we will have our dedicated membership meeting to discuss and vote on whether to create an amalgamated union by joining with the Mt. Sinai postdocs. This vote is regulated by the UAW Constitution and will be in person at this dedicated meeting, so attendance is encouraged. As the Executive Board of CPW 4100, we also want to express our support on amalgamating and our recommendation of a YES vote on the amalgamation vote.
Our recommendation on this vote is informed by our understanding of what is best for our local and our members here at Columbia, our history working with other union campaigns across the city, including at Mt. Sinai, and our broader goals for building collective power in academia and setting higher standards for postdocs and researchers across academia.
At the local level, we believe that becoming an amalgamated union will provide greater resources and operational stability for continuing as a self-sustaining local for a strong future. By having a larger membership and dues pool, and by sharing responsibilities for management of our organization (which takes up a great deal of the Executive Board’s time), becoming an amalgamated union puts us in a stronger position to support our day to day operations. Our experience thus far has emphasized to us the need for continuity in resources for organizing and bargaining, and that we always benefit from more postdocs willing to participate.
At the city level, since we formed the first postdoc union at a private university in 2020, NYC has become a hotbed for postdoctoral research unions. Throughout this process, Columbia Postdocs & ARSs have supported new campaigns in the city, including Mt. Sinai, who are now the second private university with a union contract for postdocs. Within and across our locals, we have run successful contract campaigns, unifying postdocs across campuses and fields of research, addressing our shared issues, and we will continue to do so. We have also seen how our employers coordinate – engaging the same tactics against us, which we learn from each other how to counter, and matching each other’s offers, such that a win for one of us is often a win for all of us – emphasizing our shared fights and the benefits of working together. It is through this history of collaboration and solidarity that we know we can work together productively in service of the shared goals of ensuring fair working environments for postdocs across the city.
Beyond New York City, academia is in an exciting time as workers are recognizing our rights and turning to unions to protect them. In considering what comes next, we are also acutely aware of the issues beyond the scope of any single employer that affect our day to day working lives – be it standards of academic training and mentorship, policies relating to fellowships and employment, or the availability of grant opportunities and funding policies. While these topics go beyond individual employers and contracts, they are issues that can begin to be tackled by continuing to develop and deploy collective power and resources through dedicated and sustained campaigns across the sector that work to demand and protect higher standards for all researchers and postdocs that we can better engage in as an amalgamated.
In making this recommendation, we also want to re-emphasize several key points:
- Where we see the benefits of the broader structure of an amalgamated, on the ground operations at Columbia will remain largely consistent, as we would maintain our own organizing committee, stewards, grievance process, meetings, and campaigns. All decisions that are specific to Columbia will be decided solely by Columbia postdocs and ARSs.
- Columbia and Mount Sinai postdocs/ARSs will continue to have separate contracts, each with their respective employer. This would not change anything about our current contracts. Future contracts will be negotiated independently by bargaining committees elected separately from each institution.
- In the case of an amalgamated union, we will update our bylaws to formalize the operation of the amalgamated and to ensure representation for all workers in the Local.
Collectively, we believe an amalgamated union offers the structure whereby our local campaigns and issues will be strengthened by the resources and stability of a larger structure, which will formalize our collaborations across the city, and contribute to the broader project of fighting for just employment for all researchers. It is with this in mind that we endorse a YES vote on the decision of whether to form an amalgamated union.We are looking forward to a vibrant discussion on Thursday about the pros and cons of amalgamation, and urge you all to participate. Please let us know what information you would find helpful in voting on this topic in advance of the January 18th meeting – you can share any questions or thoughts on this form and check our FAQs to learn more.
CPW-UAW Executive Board
On January 18th, at 6:30 pm we will have a special meeting – in person and zoom – to discuss and vote on the topic of amalgamating (merging) our local with the postdocs at Mt. Sinai.