Compared to last week, when Columbia’s team withdrew proposed salary increases and accused us of wasting time during the COVID-19 crisis (even though hundreds of us have been volunteering to help address the crisis), we had a much more pleasant bargaining session on Wednesday. We made a serious effort in this week’s session to find a viable pathway to a fair overall agreement, and hope the administration team comes back with a fair set of proposals next time. But that is up to the University administration.
Given the shrinking number of issues in dispute, the CPW-UAW committee gave Columbia three package proposals that cover all the outstanding bargaining topics. In a package proposal, we propose more moderate provisions in certain areas on the condition that the University agree to our priorities in other areas. We hope that by combining the topics into a small number of packages, our committee and the University can more efficiently reach a fair overall agreement that incorporates priorities for both sides.
We remain committed to achieving a fair contract that provides competitive compensation for Postdocs and Associate Researchers, enables us to engage in effective representation of our rights in the workplace and strengthens equity and inclusion in our research community.
Package 1 includes Recognition, Appointments, Holidays, Vacation, Leaves, International Researcher Rights, and Professional Development. This package is the closest to overall agreement, with the most significant dispute remaining in the article covering paid parental leave. While we have made progress on establishing the right to additional paid parental leave, we still believe the University can and should do better on this issue that would advance gender equity.
Package 2 includes Non-Discrimination, Grievance and Arbitration, Union Rights, Union Security, Management Rights, and No Strikes/No Lockouts. Our Non-Discrimination proposal is obviously a major priority for Postdoc and Associate Researchers, but so far the University has failed to adequately address some of the key concerns we have in this area around timeliness, access to representation and protection from retaliation, and bullying. The University has adamantly resisted policy changes that apply to a single group of employees. They proposed a University-wide working group, which would include Union representatives, to recommend new policies for the whole University addressing “potentially abusive or intimidating behavior.” Our package includes a version of this that requires the University to adopt these new policies. This package also includes all of the foundational articles that would establish our ability to have a strong, effective union and clarify the University’s rights during the life of our first contract.
Package 3 covers Compensation, as well as Health Insurance and other benefits. In this package, we made clear to Columbia that we would be willing to drop our original proposal to enhance benefits in a number of areas if we have agreement on fair compensation increase for all Postdocs, including Postdoctoral Research Fellows. We continue to believe that, given the unique funding structures for our positions, it does not make sense to apply the salary freeze to Postdocs and Associate Researchers. We will continue to fight for fair compensation that reflects the value we bring to this institution.Look out for opportunities to help send Columbia a message to finish a fair contract! If you are interested in helping or have feedback, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CPW-UAW Bargaining Committee