Update on Strike FAQ

In their most recent effort to divide us, the Columbia administration sent out a series of emails attempting to track down who is striking and who is not––a common employer intimidation tactic aimed at discouraging participation. As with their pattern of bad-faith bargaining, we denounce these deplorable actions by the University.

Tell Columbia to Stop Intimidation! Call Bollinger: (212) 854-9970

Rather than try to intimidate workers, Columbia needs to provide equitable relief for the many hardships amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University’s actions have generated a number of questions from members of the bargaining unit––we compiled an FAQ here that is updated with regards to the most recent developments.

COVID-19 Updates

While our Days of Action kicked off, we continued negotiating with the University’s bargaining team. This Wednesday, April 29, started with a follow-up conversation on our COVID-19 Funding Support Petition demands to address the urgent problems that many in our union are currently facing amid the global crisis. Here are the highlights of that discussion:

  • If you are eligible for the summer stipend enhancement (of up to $3,000 per student) and do not receive it by June 1, contact the finance administrator in your department.

  • Arts & Sciences is looking into the hiring of recent graduates, as soon as Fall 2020, into positions that would normally be filled by adjuncts. This is contingent upon enrollment numbers.

  • The University still has no solutions for graduating students who face the loss of their housing and healthcare. However, students graduating in May will be able to preserve their coverage through August 14. Columbia Health will not repurpose the special healthcare needs fund to provide care for people facing COVID-19 related insurance costs.

Moreover, the Director of International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), David Austell, joined our session to answer our question—the notes are below. He also committed to hold a town hall per the request of GWC-UAW International Student Workers Group and provided his personal cell number (917-833-9635) for all urgent inquiries.

  • Lack of communication with international students and scholars is a mutually recognized cause for concern, and Austell himself committed to improving ISSO’s communication.

  • Work authorization and/or visas are not required for individuals performing work from outside the US.

  • For CPT/OPT program applications, international students can obtain the required travel signatures on I-20 forms remotely via Compass. ISSO will mail the required documents to students in the US using certified delivery services.

  • We demanded that ISSO establish an emergency fund to provide support with unplanned expenses due to travel, which Austell promised to follow up on.

Contract Negotiations Update

In addition to discussing the most pressing issues, we continue bargaining towards our first union contract. At our latest session, we reached a tentative agreement on Health and Safety; we exchanged proposals on Discipline and Discharge, Workload, Vacation, and Leaves—all aimed to create a productive working environment where we can focus on quality teaching and research.

On Vacation, Columbia attempted to hand us a proposal identical to what they had passed last week. Shame on you, Columbia! We expect better at the bargaining table.