As we prepare for more strike action this coming academic year, GWC-UAW will not file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge regarding Columbia’s refusal to bargain. Rather than accommodate Columbia’s desire to extend what has already been nearly four years of legal delays, we will focus on expanding from our massive April picket lines and increasing the momentum of the broader movement until Columbia joins the growing list of private universities that have now respected graduate worker union rights.
- Columbia already has a clear legal obligation to bargain.
- Since our strike, Harvard and Brown have agreed to respect graduate worker union rights.
- A total of nine private universities (Harvard, Brown, Cornell, New York University, The New School, Brandeis, Tufts, American, and Georgetown) now bargain or have agreed to bargain after a majority graduate worker vote for unionization.
- A negative decision by an increasingly Trump-appointed and anti-labor court system could undermine the rights of graduate workers across the country.
After considerable discussion and analysis of recent events, the bargaining committee has decided that we will not file an unfair labor practice charge regarding Columbia’s refusal to bargain with GWC-UAW. Inspired by the 1,500-strong picket lines at the end of April, we remain more committed than ever to engage in all efforts necessary to win justice at Columbia. We will continue to prepare for further strike action and to expose the hypocrisy of President Bollinger, Provost Coatsworth, and the Board of Trustees for rejecting the core principles of the university and the larger academic community by refusing to respect our clear, democratic choice.
Let us be very clear: this is not a ‘withdrawal’ or ‘resignation’ of our efforts any kind. On the contrary, we are refusing to let Columbia continue to play its waiting game by holding up our case in courts for years and instead making them recognize the truth they have been trying to mislead us from by acting as if our rights were still in question: that they have no excuse, legal or otherwise, for not coming to the bargaining table. Columbia already has a clear obligation to bargain and GWC will not give it an opportunity to pretend otherwise.
The fight for graduate workers’ rights is not Columbia’s alone. While the strength of our union rests on the organization of its workers, our historic win with the 2016 Columbia University decision at the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB) spurred graduate worker unionizing across the country, by setting the legal precedent on graduate employee union rights at private universities. By choosing not to file the ULP, GWC ensures that the NLRB’s certification of our union stands. We maintain the Columbia decision as the law of the land, which emboldens graduate workers both here and elsewhere to continue our fight with legal protections.
What’s next? It is down to us, the workers, to force Columbia to the table, through continued escalating pressure. Our massive and continuing support on campus and our fellow unions’ victories will increase that pressure, particularly after successful negotiations at Harvard and other universities based on the Columbia decision.
As we promised at the end of last semester’s strike, Columbia can expect relentless disruption until they respect our rights as workers and bargain now! We will be in touch again soon about our continuing efforts, and we urge everyone to get more involved in shaping our union.