May 15th, 1:30 pm @ Hammer LL2-201

We arrived at 1:30 pm, the Columbia administration arrived around 1:45 pm, and we got started. 

17 of us were in the room: 11 postdocs/ARS sitting behind our Bargaining Team of 6.

Session started off with the CU bargaining committee handing us a set of non-economical counter-proposals–the day 5 university proposal–to our opening bargaining package. 

We held a 45 minute caucus immediately to discuss their counter-offer and which questions to ask them! 

We reconvene with Admin at 3:12pm (15min after we told them we are ready)

Caucus evaluation
What did we talk about?
Admin responses
What were their positions?
1- appointments: 
There was no mention of fellows, we agreed to inquire about this. 

They also rejected the fee we proposed they pay to postdocs/ARSs whose appointment and reappointment is delayed for reasons out of our control.
CU is arguing that as fellows on NIH fellowships don’t pay FICA, the savings from FICA taxes leverage the extra imputed taxes Fellows pay over their healthcare “according to their calculation”. 

We also highlighted all the benefits that are not accessible to fellows, and how this may be discouraging folks from applying to fellowships.

The university and CPW will come with their own numbers to compare next time.
2- discharge and discipline:
we agreed that asking about how the employee is informed of their rights including access to their Performance Files.
We will come back with a counter proposal.
3- grievance and arbitration:
it looks like the university is giving itself more time to address regarding appealing a response to a grievance.

We are rejecting the time restrictions, especially as one of the ARSs present said it puts extra burden on researchers on Visas who will be forced to leave the country before they can have a fair process to determine if their lay off was fair.
We will come back with a counter proposal.
4- international employees:
we want more guarantees that Visa cost will be covered and less committees.
They did not engage in the International Employees Assistance Fund as they considered it economic.
We will come back with a counter proposal.
5- professional development:
the university suggested forming a committee with the union for this as well, to enhance and encourage professional development. What are the guidelines for this committee? It’s unclear how their proposal would solve the issues we raised…

We asked for clarification on how they envision the role of this committee. 
Admin replied that the mission of the committee will be to create new strategies to inform postdocs/ARSs of the tools that are available to them regarding professional development… With the help of OPA. So basically… Orientation?! It will be unable to solve a dispute regarding authorship of course.

We clarified that a postdoc knows what they want, they do, however,  need to solve disputes.
6- union access, rights and activity:
their changes are benign but still reject most of our proposals.
We will come back with a counter proposal.
7- union dues:
they still want to make the union an open shop by making “fair share” payments optional. Our response: :smirk: no. They accepted one of our proposals which is nonetheless the current practice.
We will come back with a counter proposal.
8- vacation:
to their proposal to pay up to 12 days of unused vacation, we are asking, are they changing this to all officers? They had claimed that the reason why they wouldn’t change the benefits was for all officers to have the same benefits, so why is vacation an exception?
The university administration wants people to take their vacation so instead of removing entirely our right to get paid for unused vacation they proposed a cap of 12 days maximum.

CU admin acknowledges that this particular benefit may only be changed for postdocs/ARS, and not all officers, because we are a group of people who are here for a short time.

“Anecdotal examples” will be discussed in later sessions.
9-Workspace and material:
we are asking for clarification regarding the cooperation of employees regarding accommodation.
They agreed to send us the policies they refer to.
10-forming a DEI committee:
we are concerned with forming yet another committee akin the the anti-bullying committee.

These committees required a lot of work from union members  and from past experience they lead to guidelines that are often ignored and don’t become applicable rules like if they were in our contract.
The university reflected on the anti-bullying committee that our first contract established (Side Letter of our contract) and considers the outcome to be quite satisfactory [Read the update from the Provost from February], the process was lengthy, the committee, which took a while to be formed, was meeting regularly and a lot of progress has been made.
However, the guidelines that members of our union helped to produce, still need to be implemented into policy. 
All this is to say that the same applies to a DEI working group. This does not respond to our proposal.

We requested a short session before the 23rd only to discuss childcare.

We are expecting the economic proposal on the Tuesday, May 23 bargaining session. (We reminded them of this expectation).

End of bargaining session #5

(Total 2hr at 25min)


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