We’re writing to update you on a major achievement by Columbia graduate workers.

Two days ago Dean Carlos Alonso sent out an email announcing improved benefits for funded PhD students with families, including extended parental leave, increased childcare subsidies, a new campus lactation room, and an adoption assistance program.

Dean Alonso’s email did not, however, mention the forces that brought about these changes: months of sustained advocacy by GSAC, union activists, and grad workers with families. In the words of a key advocate for improved family policies, GWC organizer and parent Emma O’Loughlin Bérat,”There is no doubt in my mind that the pressure of the union helped to motivate these changes.”

The improved family policy clearly shows that by standing together to demand just compensation for our labor, grad workers can make Columbia a better place to work and live. That’s why we’re continuing to fight every day for legal recognition of our union and restoration of our collective bargaining rights: so we can have a strong voice in determining our own working conditions and benefits. We’ll also keep fighting to have these benefits extended to our colleagues in schools other than GSAS.

When we organize to speak up for our rights and interests, the administration has to listen: working together works!