Part of the strength of our union is that we are part of something larger – a movement of academics who stand together to improve our quality of life. As individual postdocs at Columbia, we certainly have more power when we speak with one voice – and we are even stronger as we stand with the more than 100,000 academic workers who are UAW members at universities across the country.
We’ve used this power to secure crucial childcare benefits, pay increases, protections against discrimination and harassment, and to encourage Columbia to become a more equitable university. This month we’re commemorating the legal battle that gave our Student Workers Colleagues the right to form their union, and asking you to share your perspective on what is most important for our Union to focus on as we move forward together.
Read on for updates from our working group on bullying and power-based harassment, news on health and safety, and resources for international workers who are navigating travel back to NYC. We are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or just have a question.
We’re excited to keep working to strengthen our union and fight for more rights at Columbia!
Fighting Back Against Power-Based Harassment and Bullying
After 16 months of bargaining, we won many improvements in our first union contract last summer. Among these, the administration recognized that bullying is a major issue in many research groups at Columbia and agreed to form a committee with our union to make recommendations for a university-wide policy to address the issue of workplace bullying.
The committee is scheduled to have its first meeting tomorrow, September 10th! However, we know it will take pressure to ensure that these recommendations reflect our experience as researchers and that Columbia makes real progress on this issue – sign the Open Letter here.
To inform the work of our representatives on this committee, members of our Anti-Bullying Working Group also designed an anonymous survey to gather data about types of bullying behaviors at Columbia – please fill in the survey by clicking this link.
Reopening and Health and Safety at Work
Under Article 10 of our contract, researchers have the right not to work in conditions that pose an immediate danger, to relevant health and safety training and proper equipment, and to protections against retaliation for raising health and safety concerns.
As Columbia establishes normal operations we want you to share any questions or concerns you have about the reopening, the safety under COVID-19 and the new Delta variant, the shift from remote to in person work and any other questions or issues.
Please, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Resources for International Researchers
International researchers make up the majority of our workforce, and often face specific challenges related to travel, visas and work authorization, unfair or discriminatory treatment, and more.
We have been informed by several postdocs and ARSs at Columbia, who have traveled for the first time in almost two years to visit their families outside of the United States, that they have experienced issues re-entering the country. This problem includes processing the National Interest Exception (NIE), which is needed to re-enter the U.S. under certain visas. If you have experienced any issues with re-entry, please fill out this short survey.
With our contract, Art. 12 Section 2 – which establishes protections against loss of employment due to immigration reasons outside of the Employee’s reasonable control – we are ensuring that none of our members face any discipline due to this issue. In addition, we have demanded that Columbia provide support and are working with other UAW Locals and our UAW CAP (Community Action Program) director to provide support to researchers, through contacting our elected political representatives to help expedite this process if necessary.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Five Year Anniversary of the Landmark Columbia/NLRB Decision
On August 23, 2016 – five years ago – the landmark National Labor Relations Board decision initiated by Columbia student workers was handed down. The ruling changed existing labor law by giving research and teaching assistants at private universities the right to be considered employees, which restored their right to organize and form unions.
The case opened the door to a wave of organizing at private (and public) universities across the country, adding huge momentum to the academic workers’ movement, and laying the groundwork for our successful campaign to form a union for Postdocs and ARS. The UAW alone now represents more than 100,000 academic workers at Brown, Boston College, The New School, the University of Chicago, Harvard, the University of Washington, the University of California and more (The Progressive covered these wins extensively this month). Columbia was and is the heart of this movement, which has improved the quality of life for workers in higher education across the country.
Make our Union Even Stronger!
And, if you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to let us know what you’re most excited to improve or protect at Columbia through your union: What are your priorities for Year 2?
CPW-UAW Local 4100 Executive Board