As eligible voters in the upcoming National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election on unionization, we have a historic opportunity. If a majority votes “yes” for GWC-UAW as our union at Columbia, the administration would be obligated for the first time ever to negotiate as equals with RAs, TAs (including masters and undergraduates) and graders in the process of collective bargaining. We would also join 35,000 student assistants across the US who have already formed unions with the UAW.
As we near the election, and as Columbia tries to convince us to vote no, we encourage you to pay close attention to empirical evidence and a few basic points about collective bargaining.
1. Unions provide a stronger voice. Collective bargaining through the UAW has enabled RAs and TAs to negotiate improvements to pay, benefits and rights at other universities, both historically and in the last few years. Click here to review concrete examples of what RAs and TAs, as well as postdocs and contingent faculty, have won at other universities.
2. Unions provide a democratic voice. RAs and TAs have participated vigorously in democratic decisions on shaping priorities through bargaining surveys and voting to approve improvements negotiated in recent UAW collective bargaining campaigns. At the University of Connecticut in 2014-15, for example, a majority of all 2,100 RAs and TAs participated in five different actions, including voting “yes” to approve significant improvements in their first union contract.
3. Unions advance social justice in the academy and beyond. In addition to winning basic improvements in pay and benefits, UAW academic unions have also been increasingly focused on winning a more just and inclusive workplace by taking on sexual harassment, discrimination against international academic workers, and other sources of inequality in our university workplaces.
Stay Informed: Our next town hall November 17, 6PM, and the GWC-UAW FAQ
We will be communicating additional information as we approach the NLRB election, but we hope you take the opportunity to keep informed in other ways as well you get ready to vote in this historic election. We invite you to attend our next town hall on November 17 at 6PM in Casa Hispanica and to read the FAQ on our website.