We took another exciting step toward winning formal recognition of our union today. In our ongoing effort to restore our right to collective bargaining as RAs and TAs, GWC-UAW filed a request with the Washington, DC, office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review our petition for a union election. We are optimistic that they will grant review, as they did last month in a case involving RAs and TAs at The New School, and hope they move swiftly. You can read the full request for review here.
As you recall, our petition was dismissed two weeks ago by the NLRB regional director in NYC, because she felt “constrained” by the 2004 Brown University decision that took away the right to collective bargaining for RAs and TAs at private universities. While she dismissed the petition, we believe her decision and analysis of our current case included ample material for the NLRB in DC to not only grant review, but also to ultimately overturn Brown and direct an election where we could demonstrate our majority support for GWC-UAW and win formal recognition of our union. If the NLRB holds an election, and a majority of participating RAs and TAs vote “yes” for the union, Columbia would have a legal obligation to engage in good-faith negotiations over pay, benefits and working conditions.
The regional director’s decision made clear what we all know already: we perform critical services for Columbia’s core teaching and research missions; we receive compensation in return for those services; and the University directs our work. As the regional director put it, “In many respects, the duties of student assistants are the same as those of admittedly ’employee’ counterparts on the Columbia University faculty.” In short, WE ARE WORKERS and we deserve to have that fact recognized once and for all.