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 someone who is not a University administrator.
  • 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 that are significantly higher than before we started organizing our union.
  • Massive increases to non-GSAS PhD student worker salaries and benefits.
  • 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.

See below for a complete summary of each article in the potential contract. Full text of the tentative agreement can be found here.



  • Codifies annual increases for PhD workers that are significantly higher than in the five years before we initially organized our union.
  • Guarantees increases to compensation of Masters and Undergraduate workers on appointment for the first time in many years, including 5% in year 1.
  • Increases the minimum hourly rate from $15 to $17 in year 1 and to $20 in year 3.
2021-2022 AY 2022-2023 AY 2023-2024 AY
PhD workers 2% increase +
1% lump sum when on appointment
3% increase 3% increase
Masters and Undergraduate workers on appointment 5% increase 3% increase 3% increase
Hourly rates $17 $18.50 $20
  • Establishes protections against late pay.
  • Brings minimum total support of PhD workers in School of Nursing, Mailman School of Public Health, and School of Social Work to GSAS level resulting in a raise as high as 67% for some of them.

Side Letter on Summer Stipends

  • Guarantees increases to summer stipend for PhD workers on 9-month appointments, starting with a $1,000 of COVID relief for this upcoming summer.
Summer 2021 Summer 2022 Summer 2023 Summer 2024
Years 1-5 (6 in English/Theatre) $4,000 + $1,000 $4,500 $4,750 $5,000
Years 6-7 $1,000 n/a n/a n/a

Health Benefits

  • Codifies fully-subsidized dependent and individual premiums for PhD workers and expands this benefit to all schools.
  • Establishes a Support Fund to reimburse out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses ($200k in year 1, $225k in year 2, and $250k in year 3).
  • Provides an avenue for the Union’s continuing input in student workers’ health benefits, including health insurance plan design.

Side Letter on COVID-19 Funding Extensions

  • Establishes in writing a commitment from the University to provide additional resources to doctoral students whose progress in research was interrupted by the pandemic across all schools.


  • Doubles the parental subsidy (from $2,000 to $4,000) and expands it to all PhD workers.
  • Expands access to Adoption Assistance and Foster Parenting program ($5,000) to all PhD workers.
  • Memorializes access to Back-Up Care Advantage program.
  • Stipulates consideration of scheduling requests arising from caretaking concerns.

Leaves of Absence

  • Establishes a new sick leave of 2 paid weeks for salaried workers for their own serious illness or that of immediate family.
  • Secures access to parental accommodation of 12 paid weeks to all PhD workers.
  • Provides bereavement leave.
  • Reasserts all other rights provided under the law.


  • Establishes a right to an alternate day off if a student worker has to work on a University holiday.
  • Establishes a provision for one personal day off per semester for salaried workers.


  • Guarantees minimum of 10 vacation days to student workers on 12-month appointments and 8 vacation days to student workers employed in the unit for two consecutive semesters.


  • Establishes access to the University’s Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program(T/PRP).
  • Memorializes access to the University’s shuttle transportation.

Retirement Programs

  • Memorializes the current access to the University’s Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan.

Tax Assistance

  • Memorializes free access to the federal tax software for international student workers.
  • Provides for other methods ISSO can utilize to disseminate tax information.


Grievance and Arbitration

  • Establishes a 3-step grievance procedure for enforcing the contract with clear timelines for each step.
  • Guarantees access to neutral and legally binding arbitration for grievances not resolved directly with the University.
  • Warrants union representation at every step of the process.


  • Recognizes that discrimination, harassment, and other forms of conduct defined in EOAA policy are prohibited.
  • Establishes enforceable protections against retaliation when a complaint is filed.
  • Establishes a right to union representation throughout the EOAA process with appropriate notification of it.
  • Establishes enforceable application of interim measures.
  • Guarantees status reports after 60 days from the start of investigation and every 30 days thereafter.
  • Establishes an enforceable right to transitional support in cases where a student worker needs to switch faculty advisors as a result of the complaint.
  • Provision to reopen the complaint procedures part of the Article if the current Title IX regulations are overturned or modified.
  • Provision for the University and the Union to meet within 18 months of ratification to review the efficiency of the processes.
  • Establishes that the University meets with Union representatives during policy review.
  • Establishes ability to enforce the correct application of the EOAA policy through grievance and arbitration, including improvements to the process and the appeals.
  • Improves the EOAA investigation process, including by providing access to all evidence for all types of complaints.
  • Creates an appeals process for EOAA complaints that is not conducted by a University employee/administrator.
  • Expands the scope of appeals to account for cases where remedy is insufficient to provide a harassment-free environment for a complainant, where an issue of policy interpretation is raised, and where investigator bias or conflict of interest may occur.
BEFORE AFTER (changes apply to everyone,
not just GWC)
5-page double-spaced limit. No page limit.
Grounds for appeal:

  • New evidence has come to light.
  • There was a procedural error.
New additional grounds for appeal:

  • Investigator bias or conflict of interest.
  • Policy interpretation.
  • Insufficiently protective changes to working conditions.
Appeal conducted as ‘deemed appropriate by the Appeal Officer’. Parties not allowed to meet with the Appeal Officer and advocate for themselves. Specific steps for the appeal process include full review of the written record/evidence and meeting with both parties if they choose to.
Appeals are heard by an administrator in the Provost’s office. Appeals will go to Neutral Appellate Officers selected via an advisory committee that includes Union representatives. Officers must have significant experience in higher education and/or in employment law and will receive training on EOAA policies.
The decision goes to the Provost for review and approval. The decision of the Neutral Appellate Officer is final, and is not reviewed or approved by CU.


No union representation in the process. Union representation and stronger role of the Advisor.
Access to evidence in Title IX cases only. Access to all evidence, including recordings of the proceedings, for all complaints.
Right to review evidence in Title IX cases only. Right to review and respond to evidence before the investigative report is submitted for all complaints.

Side Letter on Abusive or Intimidating Behavior

  • Recognizes abusive and intimidating behavior as prohibited.
  • Provides an avenue to raise this issue through University channels.
  • Establishes enforceable protections against retaliation when the issue is raised.
  • Guarantees Union representation on the University-wide Working Group, established together with Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-UAW 4100, that is bound to provide recommendations to the University within 6 months of the first meeting.

International Workers’ Rights and Protections

  • The University will host a presentation with an immigration attorney twice a year.
  • Establishes a right to perform duties remotely if stuck outside the US for reasons like administrative processing.
  • Establishes a right to be re-employed after a lapse in immigration status or work authorization.
  • Guarantees reasonable amount of paid time off to attend to visa and immigration proceedings of the employee or their spouse/children.
  • The University will work with the Union to assist an employee unable to enter the US.
  • Establishes the University’s commitment to timely complete all necessary documentation.
  • Ensures the Union’s participation on the University-wide International Student Leaders Committee.

Discipline and Discharge

  • Establishes “just cause” as a standard for discipline or discharge over job performance.
  • Preserves purview of the University over academic standing or dismissal of students.
  • Stipulates an opportunity to have a conference meeting prior to a job-related suspension or discharge.
  • Guarantees prompt notification of the student worker and the Union of disciplinary actions.
  • Creates an opportunity for more expedient resolution of grievances on this matter, especially for international student workers.

Workload and Work Quality

  • Establishes protection from being required to work more than an average of 20 hours per week.
  • Right to reasonable work schedule
  • Expedited grievance process when workload dispute cannot be resolved with the department chair.


  • Establishes a clear timeline for notifications of funding and appointments and improves upon current practice that is inconsistent between programs and departments.
  • Outlines the content of appointment letters and other information to be provided prior to the start of an appointment.
  • Improves funding security for student workers to avoid last minute withdrawals of prior commitments.

Health and Safety 

  • Memorializes provision of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Provides protections against having to work in unsafe environments.
  • Increases student worker input on health and safety issues.
  • Guarantees protection against retaliation for reporting health and safety concerns.
  • Codifies University compliance with New York State Workers’ Compensation law.

Intellectual Property and Research Integrity

  • Guarantees coverage under CU’s IP policies.
  • Establishes protection against retaliation for asserting IP or Research Misconduct rights.

Job Posting

  • Establishes that the University website can be used for posting positions not filled through department or advisor assignments.
  • The University will encourage units to post positions on the website and include necessary and legally required information.


  • Establishes that necessary trainings & orientations are considered part of the workload.
  • Provides increased worker input on content and delivery of trainings.

Professional Development

  • The University will strongly encourage schools to allocate resources and provide opportunities for professional development.

Workspace and Materials

  • Guarantees access to workspace, facilities, equipment, materials, and internet access required to perform duties.
  • Establishes a right to timely reimbursement of pre-approved purchases for materials.
  • Provides a 30-day notice of any changes to a workplace.


  • Establishes a right to timely reimbursements, travel advances, direct funding, and travel insurance.

Employment Files

  • Establishes the right to review, copy, and supplement confidential employment files.



  • Recognizes the Union as a sole bargaining representative for the bargaining unit as defined in the NLRB certification.

Effective Date and Duration

  • Establishes the start and end date of the collective bargaining agreement.

Union Dues

  • Creates a fair system of sharing the cost of union representation among all workers in the unit—union shop.
  • Failure to pay union dues or agency fees will result in a penalty paid to the Health Benefits Support Fund.

Union Activity/Access

  • Establishes reasonable access of Union representatives to offices of the University to administer the Agreement.
  • Guarantees reasonable time to administer the Agreement for Union officers and stewards.
  • Prohibits discrimination of officers or stewards for union activity.
  • Provides access to meeting space for Union membership twice per semester.
  • Provides access to orientations at the beginning of the semester to distribute information about the Union to new student workers.
  • Establishes regular access to information about the composition and compensation levels of the bargaining unit.

Union-Management Committee

  • Establishes a 10-member (5 from GWC-UAW and 5 from CU) joint committee that will meet each semester to discuss student worker issues during the contract.


  • Guarantees that the contract remains in effect even if a section is found to be unlawful.
  • Provides for sections that are found to be unlawful to be renegotiated.

No Strike/No Lockout

  • Establishes a standard provision of no strikes or lockouts for the duration of the contract.

Management and Academic Rights

  • Reasserts the University’s rights except as modified by the rest of the collective bargaining agreement.