We are writing to remind you of the ongoing ratification vote for our tentative agreement on the first contract for research and teaching assistants at Columbia. Please note that you should have received an email with subject line “Vote now: GWC-UAW Local 2110 Contract Ratification” and an individual code to access and cast your ballot. The vote will close on Friday, April 30, at 5 PM ET. 

We have won many significant improvements since joining together as a union, including through more than two years of bargaining. If approved as our first contract, the University’s final proposal package would codify important economic improvements, strengthen equity and inclusion at Columbia, establish numerous workplace rights for student workers, and create a foundation for a strong union moving into the future. Key highlights include:

  • Improved recourse on discrimination and harassment, including access to external review of a complaint by an expert outside of Columbia who has final decision-making power.

  • Commitment to funding support for PhD workers who need to change advisor due to discrimination or harassment.

  • Expansion of rights for international student workers.

  • Codification of annual pay increases (at least 3%) that are significantly higher than before we started organizing our union.

  • Massive increases to non-GSAS PhD student worker salaries and benefits (School of Nursing, Mailman, and Social Work).

  • First pay increases for Masters and Undergraduate workers on appointment in many years.

  • Protections against late pay.

  • Workload protections with an expedited grievance process.

  • Doubling of child care subsidies from $2,000 to $4,000 per child per year.

You can read the full text of the agreement here and contract highlights here.

What is the contract ratification vote?

The contract ratification vote is a vote for all bargaining unit members to democratically determine whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement that has been tentatively agreed to by the University and the Union’s elected Bargaining Committee. A simple majority of those voting determines the outcome of the vote. However, for the vote to be representative and powerful, it is critical for a supermajority of student workers to participate.

What happens if the result of the vote is Yes (to ratify the contract)?

If a majority of those voting accept the tentative agreement, the new contract would take effect upon the conclusion of the ratification vote. Compensation increases would take effect on August 1, and all PhD workers in years 1-7 on 9-month appointments would get a $1,000 COVID relief this summer.

What happens if the result of the vote is No (not to ratify the contract)?    

If a majority of voters vote NO, the offer from the University would not be approved as a new contract. We would then return to negotiations. and would certainly attempt to reproduce the terms that were offered today; however, Columbia might not uphold all of our prior tentative agreements, and it is likely that we would not achieve the same or a better offer without significant additional mobilization.

Who is eligible to vote?

Eligible voters are Columbia graduate and undergraduate students who are currently employed by the university, have been employed by the university in the past, or whose program includes a degree requirement to be employed by the university in one of the categories outlined by the NLRB decision (i.e., graduate and undergraduate Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Preceptors, Course Assistants, Readers, Graders, Graduate Research Assistants [including those on Training Grants], and All Departmental Research Assistants), and who have signed a union authorization card or similar card authorizing representation by GWC-UAW. If you have not done so already, you may fill out a union authorization card here.

If you do not satisfy the eligibility criteria but wish to participate in the vote, you will receive a challenged ballot. Challenged ballots are resolved and counted only if their number is determinative of the outcome of the vote.

What platform is used for the vote?

We will use ElectionBuddy. This electronic platform guarantees secrecy of ballots and makes sure that no one can vote more than once.

How can I access my ballot?

You should receive an email from ElectionBuddy with your ballot on Wednesday, April 21, 9 AM ET or soon after you sign a union card if the vote has already begun. Please check your spam, junk, and promotions folders if you cannot locate your ballot right away.

What if I cannot locate my ballot?

If you cannot locate the email from ElectionBuddy with the ballot, including in your spam, junk, and promotions folders, email us at columbiagradunion@gmail.com.

What is the quorum for the vote? How is the outcome decided?

There is no quorum for the vote and a simple majority decides the outcome. However, for the vote to be representative, it is crucial that the majority of student workers participate.

When will we know the results?

We will know the results shortly after the vote is closed on Friday, April 30, at 5 PM ET. Everyone can attend the ballot count via Zoom (more details will be provided soon).