This Monday, March 1, we met with the University for the first time since announcing our strike deadline of March 15. We started by reminding them of our commitment to bargain more frequently than twice a week and dedicate full days to negotiations—we hope to see the same dedication from Columbia’s negotiating team in the following weeks. At the same time, the University updated us that they plan the first meeting of the University-wide Working Group on power-based harassment for the week of March 15.
Upcoming General Body Meetings
We invite you all to our upcoming General Body Meetings on
- Monday, March 8, 6-7:15 PM ET (registration link); and
- Tuesday, March 9, 9-10:15 AM ET (registration link).
Part of the agenda will be dedicated to the discussion of the outstanding articles. We hope to see you there!
If you would like to see an overview of tentatively agreed articles and/or read full proposals, click here.
- Health Benefits: We modified our proposal on Health Benefits in an effort to narrow the focus of the discussions of this topic. We maintain that certain health insurance plan design changes are crucial to improving access to healthcare for our unit. However, there are other aspects of our proposal that we have yet to hear on from Columbia, like coverage of medical/dental/vision premiums. All of the elements of our proposal complement each other and could improve health benefits for student workers if the University puts their money in this effort.
- Appointment Guarantee: We modified our position at the table by moving our language on funding extensions due to COVID-19 to a side letter and accounting for an option of non-service fellowships for those who might not be able to maintain an appointment while finishing their research work outside of NYC. The University continues to insist that funding extensions are tied to our student status and therefore not a subject of negotiations, although they admit that the issue needs more attention. While we understand the complexity of our dual status as both workers and students, we do not find this explanation appropriate. PhD workers need a security of a strong commitment that is based on their needs.
- Recognition: For the first time in two years, Columbia’s team started to discuss our Recognition proposal in an effort to clarify our position. This conversation comes two years too late, although we welcome any amount of progress on this topic. We look forward to having more in-depth discussions with the University and hope to see a serious counter from them in the upcoming sessions.
- Fee and Tuition Waivers: We presented a new proposal on tuition waivers for Masters workers that is now aimed at memorializing the status quo where such waivers exist (e.g., GSAPP, Writing Program) and reinstituting tuition remission in SIPA. We were shocked to learn that representatives of the University were unaware that SIPA effectively cut the pay of their student workers by 40% when they eliminated tuition waivers in 2018. Moreover, we were able to provide more information on the current situation across schools than the Columbia administration.
- Compensation: We have revised the section of our proposal that addresses hourly rate minimums in response to the University’s comments from previous sessions. We hope to see a counterproposal from them that will include a similar provision on hourly workers and address the issue of late pay. In addition to minimum rates, our position on hourly workers remains that they should be able to submit timesheets electronically—a practice that exists currently and does not necessarily need introducing any new infrastructure.
Next Bargaining Dates
Our next bargaining sessions are scheduled for:
- March 4 (Thursday) 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
- March 9 (Tuesday) 11:30 am-3:00 pm
- March 12 (Friday) 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
- March 16 (Tuesday) 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
- March 18 (Thursday) 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
Please use this link to RSVP if you would like to attend any of the sessions over Zoom.