The following candidates have been elected by acclamation:

  • Lilian Coie (Neurobiology and Behavior) in Biomedical Sciences (P&S)/CUMC/Public Health;
  • Ludda Ludwig (Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Natural Sciences;
  • Miles Richardson (Cellular, Molecular and Biophysical Studies) in Biomedical Sciences (P&S)/CUMC/Public Health.

See below for the official notice of the Bargaining Committee Election on September 8 and 9.  More information, including candidate statements, can be found on this website.

Remember to register to vote here. You can fill out the Google form or reply to this email providing the same information requested to be registered. 


An election for the GWC-UAW Bargaining Committee (five [5] positions) will take place on:

Election Dates: Elections will start on September 8 (Tuesday) at 9:00 AM EDT and end September 9 (Wednesday) at 9:00 PM EDT via electronic voting. 

Instructions to vote: Electronic voting will take place on the ElectionBuddy platform. 

In order to receive a ballot with a unique ID code, voters must fill out this form. You may register starting now. Registrations received after 11:59 PM EDT on Friday, September 4, 2020, will vote subject to challenge. Challenged ballots will be resolved and/or counted if they are determinative of the election outcome.


Voters will receive a link to their ballot with their unique ID code via email and/or text message to their phone.


The following are the candidates, and the respective number of open positions on the bargaining committee:

GSAS Humanities/Social Sciences, two [2] positions

Parijat Lal 

Joanna Lee

Nadeem Mansour 

Anna Waller


School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, one [1] position

Mel Abler

Kinnari Shah 


Professional/Other Schools (School of the Arts, Journalism, SIPA, Business, Professional Studies, GSAPP, Social Work, Law, etc.), two [2] positions

Tristan du Puy

Steven Lazickas 

Gus (August) Leinbach 


Voting in the election shall be at large and shall not be restricted by jurisdiction. Voters, regardless of department, shall be entitled to vote for the number of candidates not exceeding the number of vacancies in each jurisdiction, for a total of five [5] candidates.

Voter Eligibility: Eligible voters have signed a GWC-UAW authorization card who 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). If you meet the above criteria and have not signed up for the Union previously, you may do so here.

Vote Count: Ballots will be counted after the polls close.

A runoff election, if necessary, will be held on Wednesday, September 15, 2020, 9:00 AM-9:00 PM EDT.

The following are candidates and the respective number of open positions on the bargaining committee.

GSAS Humanities/Social Sciences, two (2) positions

Parijat Lal (he/him)

I am a third year Ph.D. student in Economics running for a Humanities and Social Sciences seat on the bargaining committee as a part of the Workers for an Equitable, Representative Contract (WERC) slate.

While the pandemic has thrown the problems that many graduate workers face into sharper relief, the need for stronger, formal protections had been apparent well before the current crisis, and this was only reaffirmed by my experience organizing in Economics and CSSW over the past year. Whether it is the removal of the more comprehensive 100 healthcare plan, the chronically late pay, or the lack of expedited grievance procedures for harassment and discrimination cases, the most vulnerable graduate workers in our community stand to be hit the hardest by policies that fail to adequately address their circumstances. These issues and their consequences are not always immediately visible, which is why it is so important to negotiate a strong contract with proper protections.

As an international student, I have also been greatly encouraged by the proactive response of our union to the additional uncertainty faced by foreign workers, especially when it came to Columbia’s (now reversed) plans to withhold funding from those not physically present in the US this fall. For these reasons, as well as a strong belief in the power of the union to promote greater equity in academia, I hope to continue learning from fellow workers and build on the tremendous work done by the bargaining committee thus far in securing a fair contract.


Joanna Lee (she/her)

I am a 2nd-year PhD student in EALAC running for the Humanities and Social Sciences seat as part of C-AWDU. I believe securing a strong contract with adequate wages and workplace protections requires democratic participation, where unit members are engaged in bargaining and informed about contract articles.

Since March, I have organized hundreds of tenants to form the CU Tenants Association (CUTA). With Columbia People’s COVID Response, International Students Working Group, and other campus organizations, CUTA won emergency funding for graduate workers, rent freezes, and suspensions of lease-cancellation fees. I have been working with Housing Justice for All, Morningside Heights Community Coalition, and Mobilized African Diaspora to demand Columbia commit to affordable housing for students and neighboring communities, cancel rent, and cease predatory expansions into Harlem. Having witnessed Columbia’s refusal to assist students struggling to pay rent, I am committed to transparent impact bargaining that addresses urgent needs arising from the pandemic and beyond.

As an international student, I am alarmed by Columbia’s recent policies threatening the well-being of workers abroad. At bargaining, I will prioritize protections for all student workers, including sanctuary campus language. Our contract is strong only if it explicitly protects vulnerable international, immigrant, and undocumented members of our community.

Before my PhD, I was a staff educator for sexual violence prevention at Yale-NUS, where I advocated for survivor-centric sexual misconduct policies. I am trained in trauma-informed support for survivors of sexual violence and will use this knowledge to secure effective harassment-related grievance articles in our contract.


Nadeem Mansour (he/him)

I am a third-year PhD student in MESAAS running for a Humanities and Social Sciences seat on the Bargaining Committee. In 2017 I served as a steward and unit representative in our sister union in NYU. Between 2009 and 2015, I was a union organizer and social justice campaigner in Egypt. After almost two years of bargaining with the Columbia administration, we haven’t achieved much. It is time we have a Bargaining Committee that will speed up negotiations without giving up on our basic student-workers’ rights.

No Columbia graduate worker should struggle to pay rent during the summer or be forced to choose between paying rent and fulfilling other basic needs. We should not have to compensate for low wages by babysitting, dog-walking, or asking our families for money. In a time of pandemic, no graduate worker should have inadequate health coverage. We should be protected from retaliation and power-based harassment, and our international students should not live in fear and uncertainty because of rapidly shifting policies.

As a BC member, I will organize with fellow workers to build a strong campaign for a strong contract. I will fight for all graduate workers to have a minimum living wage adjusted for NYC costs, 7 years guaranteed funding, a sanctuary campus to protect international, immigrant, and undocumented students, strong recourse against power-based harassment in the workplace, and better health coverage for all students.

I am a proud member of Columbia Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (C-AWDU).


Anna Waller (she/her)

I am a fifth year PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance and am running for a Humanities and Social Sciences seat as part of the Workers for an Equitable, Representative Contract (WERC) slate.

I bring 3+ years of organizing experience across departments to the table. I began organizing in my home department of English leading up to our first strike in spring 2018, which quickly introduced me to the spectrum of perspectives that exists even within a single humanities department. Organizing with School of the Arts MFAs showed me the differences in our relationships to funding. Walking into labs to talk to workers in natural sciences gave me a perspective on the variety of our day-to-day work. Together we are instructors of record, TAs, and RAs, working toward doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees. We all share one union, and I am committed to listening to the diverse needs and concerns of all our workers.

Especially after Columbia’s appalling cancelation of the platinum health insurance plan, I am dedicated to fighting for an equitable health plan that does not saddle extra costs on workers living with chronic conditions. This must include vision and dental plans as well as genderaffirmative care. In this pandemic reality, we need a contract that sustains our health so we can focus on our jobs. I am eager to build on the excellent work of past Bargaining Committees, negotiate our way toward a fair and equitable contract, and see GWC into the next phase of our history.


School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, one (1) position

Mel Abler (they/them)

I’m a 7th-year doctoral student in the Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics department running for the SEAS Bargaining Committee seat. I’m running on the C-AWDU slate because I believe the way we win a strong contract is through active participation of rank-and-file union members exercising our collective power within a democratic bargaining process.

Since 2014, I’ve fought to create a more inclusive community through both GWC and Columbia’s own channels. I organised graduate workers during the 2016 unionization vote to ensure an overwhelming yes for GWC, co-founded qSTEM to support and advocate for LGBTQIA+ graduate students in STEM, worked with EGSC, and served on the university-wide PhD Council. I saw firsthand that Columbia only responds to our needs when we demonstrate unified power.

I’m ready to fight for a strong contract that protects us from the whims of the University and guarantees the working conditions we need to thrive. This means adequate healthcare that can’t be revoked at a moment’s notice; a grievance procedure addressing all forms of discrimination, harassment, and abuse; wages commensurate with NYC cost of living; and real protection for underrepresented, international, and undocumented graduate workers. We can’t keep waiting months to be paid or reimbursed, struggling to pay rent, working in offices so cold we shake, and being forced (unofficially) to crowd labs during a pandemic.

If elected, I won’t settle for whatever crumbs Columbia offers. I will demand a contract that truly meets the needs of all graduate workers.


Kinnari Shah

I am a second year Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Environmental Engineering department running for the SEAS seat on the bargaining committee as a part of the Workers for an Equitable, Representative Contract (WERC) slate.

Over the past year that I have been organizing within SEAS, I have learned about and witnessed several issues facing student workers at Columbia, ranging from a lack of funding guarantees to late pay to a lack of adequate support for our international students. I have also worked alongside many inspiring students to challenge SEAS in addressing inequality within academia; this has taught me that the inherent lack of protections for underprivileged and minority groups necessitates a strong contract that provides real recourse. As a member of the bargaining committee, I would be committed to ensuring that our contract addresses these concerns that face our student workers. I believe the path forward to a strong contract is through solidarity in our union, and I am committed to listening to fellow organizers in making sure bargaining is reflective of the needs of student workers across all schools in Columbia. I also come with 3 years of work experience in contract negotiations. As such, I believe I will bring a strong negotiation background to the bargaining committee and I will be able to fight hard for a strong, representative contract.



Professional/Other Schools (School of the Arts, Journalism, SIPA, Business, Professional Studies, GSAPP, Social Work, Law, etc.), two (2) positions


Tristan du Puy (he/him)

I am a 2nd-year PhD student in Sustainable Development at SIPA studying environmental economics. I am running for a Professional Schools seat on the Bargaining Committee, and am a proud member of C-AWDU. I believe that it is only through democratic union organizing that we can achieve a living wage and a safe, inclusive workplace environment for all.

As a trained lawyer with a background in economics, I am well-positioned to negotiate a strong and fair contract for our union. Before coming to Columbia, I assisted refugees negotiating the ins and outs of French contract and immigration law, and am excited to put these skills to work in the US context.    

The past years have proven time and time again the precariousness of international students living in the US – from the near-constant threat of being denied entry or deported, to our very own University’s administration refusal to pay graduate workers outside US borders. We need a safe and welcoming campus, free of racist policing, where everyone has access to independent, efficient, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination grievance procedures.

Columbia’s administration has so far refused to sign a contract unless it includes a no-strike clause. In light of this, I believe we should only sign a contract that guarantees a significantly improved healthcare plan, a living wage, seven years of funding for those who need it, sanctuary campus language, and real recourse against all forms of harassment and discrimination.


Steven Lazickas (he/him/his)

I am a reader and second year MPA student studying Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) running for the Professional Schools bargaining committee seat as a member of Workers for an Equitable, Representative Contract (WERC).

I began organizing for GWC at SIPA during my first year when I discovered that Columbia seeks to exclude workers in all master’s programs from the contract. As I became more active in the union, I learned more about Columbia’s manipulative practices that leave graduate students in needless precarity. The compounding crises in the United States demonstrate the need for a strong contract for ALL eligible workers, but Columbia’s continued resistance to the articles under negotiation shows that the university prioritizes greed over student worker welfare.

I am running for the bargaining committee because I believe that solidarity across Columbia’s schools is the best way we can protect our rights as workers. As a member of WERC, I commit to negotiating for a robust contract that protects and guarantees workers’ rights, safety and healthcare, and economic security. Past bargaining committees have worked hard and paved the way for a strong contract, and we are now in a unique position to bargain for a contract that provides security and dignity to our workers.

In addition to my values, I have several years professional experience in law and politics reviewing contracts and negotiating with large institutions.


Gus (August) Leinbach (he/him)

I am a second year JD student in the Law School running for a Professional Schools seat on the Bargaining Committee. I am part of the C-AWDU (Academic Workers for a Democratic Union) slate because I believe that a strong contract is possible only if we’re committed to principles of democratic bargaining and the active participation of rank-and-file members.

My experience at the Law School, including coursework in labor and contract law, will be a crucial asset as we negotiate contract articles at the bargaining table. I will pair this legal background with my experience as a co-founder of the Columbia University Tenants’ Association (CUTA), where I worked to organize residential buildings and create a platform for voicing tenants’ concerns before the University administration. In collaboration with several campus and city-wide housing justice groups, our association has won a rent freeze, increased lease flexibility, and demystified the university’s housing bureaucracy for countless tenants.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined Columbia’s failure to address the needs of graduate workers. University policies have left hundreds of us vulnerable, from international students given little guidance on new immigration policies, to tenants under threat of eviction from unaffordable graduate housing. A safe and secure work environment for all means a contract that offers a real living wage, effective recourse for discrimination and harassment, and a sanctuary campus.

I am committed to bringing the demands of our organized membership directly to the bargaining table; through negotiation and worker power, we can win the contract we need.