We are writing to address workers’ concerns on the pay docking system as more information becomes available. We want to highlight that this shows that Columbia is trying to intimidate us out of striking because it is against their interests. We believe that together we have power, and we can look out for each other despite these intimidation tactics.
While we are continuing to consult with the UAW legal counsel, we can address the following points:
- It is legal for an employer to withhold pay of those on strike, though there is less clarity on the issue of charging back the prorated portion of the stipend. Regardless of the legal argument, filing an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would not address the immediate needs of many workers, which require being addressed. The UAW Strike Assistance Fund will provide $275/week for workers who strike at least 10 hours/week, and the Hardship Fund will be used to pay specific bills that strikers would otherwise not be able to afford.
- The most effective way to push back against this intimidation tactic is to continue organizing for the strike. We encourage talking to faculty and departments about how settling a contract and stopping the strike is in the University’s power and doing otherwise is their conscious choice. Allies can help message to Columbia’s administrators that regardless of the legality behind withholding pay, it is an unjust form of intimidation during a pandemic, and reaffirms the necessity of our fight for protections of a union contract through this work stoppage.
- The surest way we can meet this challenge is through solidarity and mutual assistance as a union. Here you can sign up for the UAW Strike Assistance Fund and the Hardship Fund.
- Although the system is not fully up and running yet, we want to make it clear that no one has to click the link when it becomes available. We recommend that you do not complete the attestation if you are striking, and you can encourage your colleagues not to comply, even if they are not striking. Any worker whose pay ends up wrongfully docked would be able to retrieve it through contacting the University via the email provided and/or filing a complaint with the NYS Department of Labor after the strike.
If you have personal concerns, please reach out. We are amazed by your continued solidarity in the face of such challenges. Thank you for showing up to the picket lines to fight for a better Columbia. We will also keep fighting to win at the bargaining table.
GWC-UAW Local 2110 Bargaining Committee