We write to express our frustration with the Columbia administration’s latest efforts to deny collective bargaining rights to our graduate worker colleagues and to reaffirm our commitment to form a postdoctoral workers union despite the administration’s clear desire to avoid bargaining with the academic workers who are the backbone of this great university. Click here to get involved in pushing our post-doctoral union forward.
Provost Coatsworth informed the Columbia community last week that the administration will refuse to bargain with the graduate workers union (GWC-UAW), based on their belief that graduate student workers should not be considered employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.
However, after intensive investigations and hearings the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board concluded that:
“In many respects the duties of student assistants are the same as those of admittedly ‘employee’ counterparts on the Columbia University faculty… In labs, research assistants work side by side with faculty and post-docs, performing many of the same tasks and advancing the work of the lab and the mission of the University as a top research institution.”
We remain confident our graduate worker colleagues will ultimately win full recognition of their union. But we are deeply disappointed the administration has chosen to continue fighting an expensive legal battle, rather than honor the democratic voice of the graduate workers (who voted overwhelmingly for the union) and start bargaining a fair contract with GWC-UAW.
In the case of our postdoctoral union, we at least know that Columbia cannot argue to the NLRB that we are students. However, their behavior over the last three years makes clear they would prefer not to share real decision-making power about our pay, benefits, and rights, and they may very well seek other ways to stall our effort to have a union.
With Columbia’s position more clear than ever, it is especially important that we reach as many postdoctoral researchers as possible, as quickly as possible so that we can continue growing toward majority support. The more people that get involved the more power we will have as we begin the process to secure a fair contract for postdoctoral researchers across campus.
Members of the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers (CPW-UAW)