We hope your summer is off to a good start! We’re writing you with an update on our campaign to win back the right to collective bargaining and recognition of our union.
The last month of hearings at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was busy with testimony introduced by us and by the administration’s expensive anti-union law firm, Proskauer Rose L.L.P. Administrators, faculty, expert witnesses, and our own colleagues were called to testify. The testimony repeatedly supported our argument that we are workers as well as students. The work that we do as Teaching and Research Assistants is integral to Columbia University’s mission to “advance knowledge and learning at the highest level.”
Testimony by Dean Soulaymane Kachani from the School of Engineering and Longxi Zhao, a Teaching Assistant from the Chemical Engineering department, showed how the university already treats our employment as workers separately from our standing as students. And with each day we do not have a union, the university will continue to arbitrarily make decisions without providing us with due process.
Columbia’s administration also paid $735 an hour to have Princeton University Professor Henry Farber testify that graduate worker unionization negatively affects universities, but when cross-examined he admitted he had no empirical evidence for his claims.
GWC-UAW lawyer: Are you aware of any empirical evidence that Unionization has had any negative effects on faculty/student relationships?
GWC-UAW lawyer: Are you aware of any empirical evidence that union representation has damaged academic freedom?
Transcripts of all the hearings can be found on here. Final briefs will be filed by June 24th. We are confident that the NLRB will come to a decision in a timely manner and reverse the 2004 Brown precedent, in recognition that Research and Teaching Assistants at private universities are workers. Our colleagues at public universities already have this recognition; as a result, over 60 public universities, including the University of California and the University of Washington, have legally recognized graduate unions.
We’re excited by the continued movement of tens of thousands of workers in higher education, across America, who are organizing to improve our working conditions and to have democracy in our workplaces. Last week the Barnard Contingent Faculty, BCF-UAW Local 2110, filed for union recognition at the National Labor Relations Board! Keep up to date with their union campaign on their Facebook.
This summer, we are continuing our organizing efforts. We’re working to grow our already strong majority base, as well as updating those who are already supportive. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can let us know here. We will also be hosting weekly happy hours at Toast Chicken (1268 Amsterdam Ave), Wednesdays from 6 – 8 pm. All are welcome to join.