It has been one month since the NLRB counted the landslide vote in support of our union and three weeks since the University’s lawyers filed objections aimed at overturning that result. With nearly 2,000 signatures on our petition urging Columbia to drop their objections and a similar letter from over 150 faculty last week, it is clear that Provost Coatsworth’s effort to win the hearts and minds of the campus community is not working. His attempt yesterday to justify objections in the face of a 72% yes vote for GWC-UAW simply continues a consistent, disappointing, and fruitless two-year effort to defy the will of the democratic majority on the question of unionization and goes against the core values of this university.
We remain confident the NLRB will reject the University’s hollow objections and uphold the results of our historic vote in favor of unionization. As faculty put it to the administration last week, the University’s objections “are not simply frivolous; they are insulting to the Teaching and Research Assistants who voted, implying that they are incapable of weighing the relevant arguments and reaching carefully considered independent judgments.” It is encouraging to see so many faculty express support for the democratic process.
As an example of the hollowness of the University objections, the Provost wrote yesterday that “Students arrived at Earl Hall only to be told that their names already had been checked off as having voted there,” suggesting a widespread problem that could have affected the election results. Yet, the University’s actual objection to the NLRB only claims one such eligible voter had this experience and had to vote challenged, in contrast to more than 2,200 eligible voters who cast unchallenged ballots by a 1602-623 margin.
The administration’s decision to press forward with their specious objections once again diverts resources toward fighting our democratic voice instead of bargaining over critical issues like stronger protections against sexual harassment, paid health insurance for the hundreds of TAs who currently receive none, or fair policies on time off from working in the lab each year.
Per its obligations as the federal agency overseeing the democratic processes of forming unions and collective bargaining, the NLRB will conduct an investigation of the University’s allegations. A hearing will occur on January 23 at the NLRB regional office in Brooklyn; it is open to the public and we encourage anyone interested in this process to attend. We believe the evidence will support our position that none of the objections raised by the University suggest another result could have happened and, therefore, that the NLRB should certify our union, legally obliging Columbia University to finally respect our voice and begin bargaining in good faith for a fair contract.
Regardless of the University’s efforts to roll back our historic election, we will continue preparing for contract negotiations, including a new bargaining survey we hope to launch soon so we can all share our experiences at the University.
While the university’s tactics are disappointing, we look forward to building on the victory we all won last month, and to the things we can accomplish by standing together for our rights as workers.