In our seventh bargaining session, we presented the administration with our open letter signed by a majority of Postdocs and Associate Research Scientists, calling on Columbia to negotiate stronger protections and recourse against harassment and discrimination. Representatives from our union and the graduate worker union delivered the open letter to President Bollinger’s office earlier that afternoon. Check out our facebook post and like the page to receive similar updates.

We started out our bargaining session yesterday with a powerful testimony from one of our fellow Associate Research Scientists who talked about being bullied by her former PI over a seven year period and the lack of effective university policies to address her type of situation, especially for international researchers whose visas depend on their PI’s support.

She described a culture of bullying and abuse of power that took the form of expecting researchers to work 12-13 hour days and over the weekends, clear violations of intellectual property policies, belittling comments and deliberate undermining of the lab members, and extreme pressure to deliver results. Even after leaving the lab, she was excluded from authorship over her own work and faced retaliation when she attempted to use existing university procedures to seek recourse. The administration’s bargaining team acknowledged that strengthening protections against this kind of behavior was in the interest of everyone at the university.

During the session, we made four new proposals and continued to discuss several others. We made a lot of progress on some of our key non-economic issues, and reached our first tentative agreement with the university, on our Severability article. This is very exciting because it demonstrates that we are making progress towards a fair agreement with the University. The article ensures that if any part of the contract is invalidated by law, that the rest of the contract will remain in effect. Our four new proposals were: Non-Discrimination and Harassment, International Worker Rights and Protections, Intellectual Property and Scholarly Misconduct, and Health and Safety.

Our Non-Discrimination and Harassment proposal would state the university’s commitment to protect against all forms of discrimination and harassment, establish preventative measures, and provide recourse options in cases where these issues do take place.

Our International Workers Rights and Protections proposal would provide more support and transparency for international PARs in acquiring visas and protections against visa-renewal related costs.

Our Intellectual Property proposal would give PARs more rights and control over what happens with research that we produce.

Our Health and Safety proposal would ensure that PARs can address health concerns and maintain safe working environments.

The university also gave us a packet of their positions on various articles, which nevertheless did not address many of our most recent proposals and ignored substantial issues we raised in previous sessions. In our next bargaining sessions, we will continue to discuss these and other proposals as we move forward in negotiations.

Our next bargaining session will take place on June 10th. One member of our bargaining committee, Sonny Harman, will be leaving Columbia soon and will be replaced by our current Alternate, Ignacio Hernandez Morato. If you have any questions or would like to get more involved with the union please email


CPW-UAW Bargaining Committee