See below for the official notice of the Bargaining Committee Election from June 19th to July 3rd.  More information, including candidate statements, can be found on the GWC-UAW Local 2110 website.

An election for the GWC-UAW Bargaining Committee (ten [10] positions) will take place on:

Election Dates: Elections will start on June 19th (Saturday) at 9:00 AM EDT and end July 3rd (Saturday) at 9:00 PM EDT via electronic voting. 

Instructions to vote: Electronic voting will take place on an online platform, more instructions are forthcoming. 


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

GSAS Humanities/Social Sciences, two [2] positions

Ethan Jacobs 

Michelle Jiang

Nadeem Mansour

GSAS Natural Sciences, two [2] positions

Colin Adams

Ioanna Kourkoulou


School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, two [2] positions

Jackson Miller

Becca Roskill


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

Tristan Du Puy

Mandi Spishak-Thomas

Biomedical Sciences (P&S)/Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC)/Public Health departments, two [2] positions

Laura Benoit

Lilian Coie

Maya Spaur

Lukas Vlahos

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 ten [10] 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 Thursday, July 15, 2021, 9:00AM-9:00PM EST.


We will be hosting two general body meetings, which will function as candidate forums for the prospective members of the Bargaining Committee. These will be held on June 17th (Thursday) at 7:00 pm EDT (click here to register)and June 18th (Friday) at 9:30 am EDT (click here to register).

These meetings are opportunities for the BC candidates to introduce themselves, and to answer questions from unit members. To this end, we will actively solicit questions for the candidates via this google form.  


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

GSAS Humanities/Social Sciences, two (2) positions

Ethan Jacobs (he/him)

I’m a fourth-year Philosophy PhD running for the Bargaining Committee alongside experienced organizer Nadeem Mansour, as part of the Worker Empowerment (WE) slate. I bring to the bargaining team a careful eye for contract language, a track record of fostering democracy and community in GWC, and experience with grassroots organizing in NYC.

With GWC, I’ve used my background in close-reading philosophical and legal texts to analyze Columbia’s bargaining position, and to help draft bylaws for our union that enshrine a culture of transparency and accountable leadership. Recognizing that rejecting the Tentative Agreement requires us to mobilize for more, I helped build our nearly 600 member strong rank-and-file Discord server, a space for us to share workplace concerns, organize together, and mobilize — much needed given limitations on in-person interaction. I also bring knowledge of how larger NYC labor dynamics inform our struggle at Columbia gained through organizing with Workers’ Assembly Against Racism

In the months surrounding our strike, I pored over comparable labor agreements and labor law to familiarize myself with how our tentative agreement’s language addressed our demands. The changes to EOAA did nothing to address power-based harassment and failed to give GWC a meaningful say in the choice of appeals officers. Additionally, the contract excluded hundreds of legally recognized unit members. I voted No on the tentative agreement because I know our unit can achieve more.

I commit to proactively collaborating with student workers throughout negotiations. Any agreement reached by the BC must have the overwhelming support of the unit — especially those directly affected by the agreement’s provisions. A return to in-person instruction presents an ideal opportunity for us to demonstrate the value of our labor to University operations. By leveraging our collective power in the classroom, laboratory, picket line, bargaining table, and vast support networks we’ve built together, I am confident that we can quickly reach a strong contract.

In order to win these basic needs, it is essential that you support my fellow Worker Empowerment (WE) slate members. We believe in a BC that follows the lead of the rank-and-file. Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to Together, WE will get the working conditions we deserve!


Michelle Jiang (she/her)

My name is Michelle Jiang, and I’m a 4th year Ph.D. student in economics in humanities/social sciences. Beyond organizing in my department, I’ve also previously served as co-president of the economics association of graduate economics students, and organized to expand our department’s diversity committee and initiatives. 

My priorities if I am elected to serve on the bargaining committee are twofold: (a) a strong contract, and (b) getting to it in as fast a manner as possible. For those of us in stressed financial and healthcare situations, the importance of getting a contract – which comes with immediate pay increases, better healthcare, and better protections – is key. I will fight for not just a good contract, but a timely one. We began bargaining in early 2019. It is far beyond time for a contract. 

Within a contract, I will focus on pushing up higher salaries in all groups, keeping our gains from the last tentative agreement– especially for groups that would have been brought to pay parity, pushing for dental or a higher healthcare coverage fund, pushing for neutral arbitration, and pushing for recognition of all workers. It is important for me to lock in and improve upon what we won in the last agreement. While doing so, I will recognize that your strike power is valuable and should not be taken for granted. Strikes are powerful, but often difficult for individual members. For that reason, we should never squander one – and we should be cognizant that “strike forever” is not a coherent strategy. Strategy instead should always be informed by organizing.

As a Bargaining Committee member, I would commit to regular updates to the unit about bargaining, topics covered, and bargaining priorities. I think it’s important that the unit hears regularly from the bargaining committee, not just during strike. I also want to stress the importance of 1-on-1 organizing and 1-on-1 conversations, i.e. grassroots organizing. In addition to surveys, the most important thing we can do is talk to our union members regularly to get a sense of how people are feeling and what decisions they think the bargaining committee should take.

Finally – I am also running as a counterpoint to a disturbing trend of bullying, toxicity, and harassment by the people who purport to care about non-harassment and discrimination, and yet sanction the same behavior in their fellow rank-and-file members, even within the “rank-and-file Discord.” My commitment is that we ensure the union is not only a safe space, but also a welcoming space, for everyone. That is the only way to ensure the largest and most democratic participation: that your voice is welcome. 


Nadeem Mansour (He/Him)

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies  department running for the Bargaining Committee alongside legal whiz Ethan Jacobs and the rest  of the Worker Empowerment slate. 

I am no stranger to union organizing. For years I worked as a union organizer and social justice  campaigner in Egypt, working to raise the national minimum wage and pass more robust trade  union laws. In 2017 I served as a steward and unit representative at our sister union NYU-GSOC,  where I helped enforce wins from our 2015 contract as part of a democratic, worker-led union.  GSOC’s recent contract wins – vastly improved hourly wages, protections from ICE and the  NYPD, and a legal fund for international and immigrant student workers – can be ours too. I have been organizing with GWC-UAW since 2019, keeping the membership engaged in and  informed of contract negotiations since bargaining began and helping mobilize for the recent  strike. Over the last year, I’ve worked in our union’s Organizing Committee, Communications  Committee, Hardship Fund Committee, International Students Working group, Process Working  Group, amongst others. I want to use my extensive labor organizing experience to strengthen our  union. 

In all the unions I have organized with, from factory workers in Egypt to teachers and  researchers at an Ivy League university, I have seen first-hand that unions are only strong when  their members actively participate in strategy development. In our case, this means we need a BC  that listens, welcomes critiques, and includes membership in all bargaining decision-making. The  Worker Empowerment slate is our chance for a member-led union. 

Our demands are reasonable and winnable. It is simply unacceptable that student workers  struggle to pay rent during summer, teach in pain because they cannot afford dental procedures,  and experience assault and harassment without proper recourse when only 5% of EOAA cases  find perpetrators responsible. An injury to a single worker is an injury to all, and we must ensure  all workers’ needs are met in our contract. 

We know Columbia University and its 5 billion annual budget can easily afford all our demands  and more. 

To win these demands, we must organize a strong campaign that puts public pressure on  Columbia and prepare for a majority strike in the fall. Our strength depends on the full  engagement of our resourceful body of student workers. As a BC member, I commit to  organizing with my fellow student workers in a member-led campaign that will get us a living  wage, real recourse for discrimination and harassment, adequate healthcare, including dental  care, and recognition of our full unit. 

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of  endorsements, please go to

GSAS Natural Sciences, two [2] positions

Colin Adams (he/him)

“I love unions and am growing to love onions.”

I’m a fourth year Physics PhD student running for the Bargaining Committee (BC) alongside the inimitable Ioanna Kourkoulou, as a part of the Worker Empowerment (WE) slate. I first became engaged with the union after hearing from person after person in the Natural Sciences how they were being overworked, mistreated, and bullied in their workspaces. I learned that the university has zero protections or forms of recourse for individuals in those positions, and saw the union as the only group fighting to change that. I see that as the primary responsibility of a union: to protect its workers. In order to fulfill that duty, representatives of the union should operate transparently and democratically. That’s why I’m running for BC: to listen to, to value, and to protect you, the workers. You deserve all the protections our previous tentative agreement failed to offer: 

Grievance and neutral arbitration for cases of discrimination and harassment as well as protections and transitional funding for those experiencing power-based

  • harassment or bullying: No graduate student should have to work in an actively hostile environment without any formal avenue towards a remedy.
  • Adequate dental coverage: Who can work while facing a decision between unbearable tooth pain or a massive root canal bill?
  • Fair compensation and pay parity: How can a multi-billion dollar private university not afford to pay its workers a livable wage?
  • Full recognition of the unit per the 2017 NLRB ruling: If Columbia refuses to answer to a federal agency, who do they have to answer to?

To ensure our members’ interests are reflected in our contract, I pledge to make our union as accessible as possible, and in this vein, will work to institute rotating “Ask Us Anything” BC office hours, as well as to revamp the GWC calendar to facilitate engagement. I bring to the table three years of departmental organizing experience, including the co-writing of a successful grant application for a series of round-table discussions on diversity, community, and pedagogy in Physics. My Worker Empowerment colleagues and I also bring a desire to make sure that our BC’s values reflect the ideals of our formidable rank and file, and to win the fundamental protections necessary for us to do our jobs. WE got your back.

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to


Ioanna Kourkoulou (she/her)

I am a 4th year PhD candidate in theoretical Physics, running alongside my trusted friend and colleague Colin Adams on the Worker Empowerment slate. 

I have dedicated countless hours organizing my department for the union, which was very active in the recent strike, and establishing connections to sibling departments in STEM. Building on interdepartmental networks of solidarity is important to make sure our collective experiences can be heard and represented. 

The testimonials of workers I have come across through organizing highlight the dire necessity of the essential protections and benefits we are fighting for: dozens of cases of harassment are never brought to light due to the lack of trust in the systems meant to protect us; even the highest paid among us are struggling to afford proper health and dental care, and many are struggling to live with dignity in NYC. 

I will bring to the table firm and unwavering dedication to win a contract that protects us all from such precarity. We shouldn’t be underpaid or denied standard protections and benefits on the basis of not being real workers. We are the backbone of this University, and our collective power as academic workers at Columbia is formidable. 

Our fight for a strong first contract is deeply connected to the rising precarity and adjunctification of academic labor in our times, and I believe it is our duty to secure substantial wins that will elevate academic workers here and everywhere. We need a BC that:

  1. has faith in the power of our labor and will work with an engaged membership to quickly win a strong contract that we can all overwhelmingly ratify.
  2. commits to seeking and following directions from our unit so that all major decisions reflect the will of thousands of workers, not merely the 10 representatives tasked with bargaining.
  3.  will defend the material needs of student workers to the administration – not simply serve as an executive decision-making body or a performative debate team. 

It is important to support all my fellow Worker Empowerment candidates, so that we can work as a team and ensure your Bargaining Committee adheres to these principles. Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to

Looking forward to a strong contract and a union led by empowered workers.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, two (2) positions

Jackson Miller

I am a second year PhD student in the Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department running to represent SEAS on the Bargaining Committee (BC) alongside rockstar undergrad organizer Becca Roskill. I chose Columbia because of  the vibrant, vigorous union  I saw striking for a strong contract in 2018. As such, it was with great pleasure and joy that I joined the rank-and-file on the picket line this past spring. Though the proposed contract did not include the stated demands of our strike—neutral arbitration, comprehensive healthcare, a living wage—we now have an opportunity to fight for a contract that does. I’m running for the BC with the Worker Empowerment slate because I want to win that fight.

At Stanford, I was the undergraduate representative on the Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s Advisory Board. There, I helped graduate worker representatives push the department to increase recruitment of women and people of color for tenure track positions, and guaranteed funding for 6th+ year doctoral students. Additionally, while academic workers at Stanford had no union—the university even filed an anti-labor amicus brief with the NLRB in 2016’s Columbia vs. GWC—I organized with Young Democratic Socialists of America to support the labor efforts of graduate students and SEIU-organized service workers. High health care costs, the astronomical price of housing, and discrimination and harassment are all issues familiar to graduate workers in the Bay Area.

I will be a ceaseless advocate for a contract that takes care of all workers in the unit. Firmly committed to the values of democracy, transparency, and accountability, I will be resolute in ensuring the rank-and-file are included in the decision-making process so that the contract we win passes through the unit with flying colors. I know that we can win an agreement that protects the most vulnerable among us; that path begins with electing myself and my fellow Worker Empowerment (WE) slate members, for there is no force in Columbia’s arsenal that can divide us. In solidarity, we will win.

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to


Becca Roskill (she/her)

I am a fourth-year undergraduate worker in SEAS and SIPA studying Computer Science and History and I am proud to be running for the Bargaining Committee alongside the energetic graduate worker Jackson Miller as part of the Worker Empowerment slate. If elected, I will be the second undergraduate worker in the union’s history to represent hundreds of hourly undergraduate and MA workers, many of whom would have been excluded from the tentative agreement that was recently voted down. I will fight for full-unit recognition of members to ensure that all student workers can find a home in the GWC. Hourly workers are affected by many of the same issues of harassment and discrimination recourse, so we must listen to survivors expressing that third-party neutral arbitration is an absolute necessity for our first contract.

This spring, I created and helped manage a strike fund for GWC that raised almost $190,000 for workers experiencing financial hardship in the face of unprecedented pay docking from the University. As Co-Chair of Columbia-Barnard Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), I have fought to expose the administration’s lies of austerity and helped mobilize over 4,000 students to strike on their tuition. The tuition strike addressed the interconnected issues of rising tuition, worker exploitation, displacement and gentrification of the Harlem community, and undemocratic investment decisions and ultimately won improvements to financial aid and divestment from fossil fuels. Uniting students, workers, elected officials, and community members against the administration in a similar way will build a powerful form of solidarity for our actions this fall.

The next BC must base all bargaining decisions on the priorities of rank and file workers and empower sweeping worker action to achieve the working conditions we deserve. Our slate of workers share the view that the purpose of bargaining is to hold the line and force the administration to rethink what is “possible” when it comes to priorities like a living wage, dental, third-party neutral arbitration, and full-unit recognition. These protections are not bargaining chips – they are deeply felt inadequacies in the tentative agreement that garnered unprecedented turnout among our rank and file demanding a stronger contract. We build our power not by choosing the path of least resistance, but through every win that we achieve by fighting together, no worker left behind. 

Our Worker Empowerment slate is committed to this vision of organizing and bargaining – if you vote for me, vote for them too! Working as a cohesive team will fortify our strength at the table.

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to

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’m a second year PhD student in Sustainable Development at SIPA, and was a member of the  Bargaining Committee (BC) this last year. I am running alongside social worker and healthcare  researcher Mandi Spishak-Thomas along with the other dedicated and experienced organizers  on the Worker Empowerment slate.  

We are running to ensure that our contract brings us the protections we need, but also makes  us stronger as a community, fosters solidarity and helps change Columbia for the better.  

I am committed to transforming our BC into an open, democratic space. Because thousands  of voices are stronger than ten, I am committed to holding meetings open to our unit  members, and jointly draft our contract proposals. Our BC’s stances should reflect those of  our unit, and its strategy should build upon its actions.  

Our BC should remain truthful and open to input and collaboration, and save the hard talk for  bargaining.  

NYU’s union, GSOC, has recently shown us what we can achieve if we stand together. This  May, they secured a 30% increase in hourly wages ( $26/hour), created a new health fund to  cover out-of-pocket expenses (reaching $700k the last year of their contract), and obtained  sanctuary protections from ICE and other government agencies for all NYU members. The  same month, Brown’s union (GLO) won a minimum 4.59% raise for all grad students.  

Strong unions win strong contracts, above all else build strong and inclusive communities.  Unions become strong by fighting for the rights of their most vulnerable members – in our case  this means fighting for pay parity, a living wage, comprehensive healthcare, arbitration for  cases of discrimination and harassment, sanctuary campus, protection for international and  immigrant students, and an end to Columbia’s gentrifying practices in Harlem.  

Before coming to Columbia, I used my training in law to assist refugees negotiating the ins and  outs of French immigration law. I am excited to put these skills, my background in economics,  and my experience on the BC to negotiate a strong contract for our union.  

Because union work is collective work, I won’t be able to do this on my own. I will need the  Worker Empowerment organizers beside me at the bargaining table. 

You can see more on our slate, and the groups which endorse our project here:


Mandi Spishak-Thomas (she/her)

I’m a fourth-year PhD student in the School of Social Work running alongside BC-veteran and worker champion Tristan du Puy, and as a member of the Worker Empowerment slate. I’m running so I can do what social workers do best, amplify and advocate for the voices of the people, and those people are you.

Since my first year at Columbia, I have been organizing my department while also serving on the GWC Health Care Working Group. Over the last three years, I have heard countless testimonials recounting the barriers to a simple dental cleaning and the stresses of living in New York City on $23,000 a year. I organized my department for a No-vote because our tentative agreement failed to hear what student workers have been demanding for years — that we deserve a living wage across all departments, neutral third-party arbitration, dental insurance, and a contract that recognizes our entire unit. Not only were hundreds of student workers left out of the contract, but departments like Social Work, Nursing, and Public Health were conspicuously left behind, making thousands less than other departments.

Collective action and union organizing is deeply ingrained in the social work profession, and I have been fiercely committed to both since I became a social worker almost a decade ago. Now, as a doctoral student studying health policy, I am uniquely poised to understand the importance of quality and affordable comprehensive health benefits, including dental care. During my time as a community and hospital social worker, I advocated for individuals and families to ensure that their basic needs — from housing to health insurance — were met. As passionately as I fought for my patients, I will fight for every student worker to have access to real dental coverage, not just reimbursements from a small health care fund.

I believe in a BC that is worker-led. In my three years of GWC organizing, I have listened to the needs of the unit, and social workers make the best listeners. It is time to put workers first. If I am elected to the BC, I will ensure all bargaining decisions are made democratically and represent the needs and priorities of workers across every department. I will not bend to the will of a university that does not respect the backbone of its workforce. We are stronger together, I will not be able to fulfill the vision of a democratic union without my whole team. If I have won your vote, the rest of the Worker Empowerment slate should as well.

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to

Biomedical Sciences (P&S)/Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC)/Public Health departments, two (2) positions

Laura Benoît (she/her)

I am a sixth year MD/PhD student in the Neurobiology and Behavior program, and I believe that every student worker should feel included and respected at Columbia. Therefore, I am running for the medical campus seat with Bargaining Committee (BC) veteran and all-around superstar, Lilian Coie, as well as the other incredible members of the Worker Empowerment slate. 

For the past six years, I have worked on diversity, anti-bias, and equity efforts at Columbia. Through this work, I have helped to launch anti-bias workshops, guidelines for anti-bias education and recruitment, and an anonymous reporting tool for CUIMC graduate workers to report issues without fear of retaliation. 

My efforts have come from a fundamental belief that each and every one of us deserves to work at an institution that treats us with dignity. That starts with fair wages, health care — including dental — and basic protections in cases of harassment. My prior experience has taught me what to expect from negotiations with deans, directors, and other administrators to improve working conditions at Columbia. I have always prioritized actionable goals in developing initiatives, but these issues reflect larger societal problems; therefore, I have learned to come up with creative solutions to ensure real, tangible results in a timely manner. I will carry that knowledge and approach forward into bargaining. 

The work I have done to protect student workers from discrimination and harassment has always been collective work. I have learned that it is only through collective struggle that we can win such protections. If elected, I commit to consulting with working groups about the articles that affect them before bringing those articles to the table. This is both a strategic decision and one of principle. We are always stronger when we work together. 

Every member of the Worker Empowerment slate will dedicate themselves to representing you and advocating for your needs. We are committed to bargaining on the graduate worker unit’s terms, and I will be much more effective in this mission if I have a team dedicated to doing the same. If you vote for me, I would also encourage you to vote for every member of our slate so we can bring our shared approach of bargaining to the table.

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to


Lilian Coie (she/her)

I served on the Bargaining Committee (BC) this past year representing CUIMC, and I am running again to finish what I started. This time, I’m running alongside my long-time partner in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, Laura Benoit, and our equally dedicated Worker Empowerment slate.

Reflecting on the success of our No vote has me dreaming big and reimagining what our bargaining process could look like with the full strength of the unit behind us as we bargain for a contract we can enthusiastically ratify.

I am committed to serving on a BC that invites all workers to drafting sessions, puts in the work to find common ground, and most of all – listens. 

This past year I have been listening, and what I have heard is that 1) workers need more from our healthcare article than a small fund to cover out-of-pocket expenses 2) workers have faced countless abuses while at the University and need real arbitration for cases of discrimination and harassment as well as protections and transitional funding for those experiencing power-based harassment 3) workers have fought for too long to have a contract that excludes any member of our unit. 

Importantly, while many of our advisors and our mentors have our best interests at heart, the administration and the Trustees refuse to hold abusive faculty accountable, and consistently value the size of their endowment above our basic needs. Our next BC must trust in the power of our labor and stand firm when faced with the powerful behemoth that is Columbia University. 

To accomplish these goals, I need my dream team. Tristan and I, who were both on the BC, will ensure the administration’s usual tricks of lying and deflection do not keep our team from a strong contract any longer. I commit to sharing what I have learned on the BC in open workshops on contract language — every student worker should have the same information the BC does so we can make strategic decisions together. If you share our vision for a strong union of empowered workers, vote for all the Worker Empowerment candidates so that we can face Columbia united. 

Our slate has been endorsed by a number of allies. For more information and a list of endorsements, please go to


Maya Spaur (she/her)

I am a second year PhD student in Environmental Health Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health.

I have been organizing for GWC within my department and MSPH for the past two years, organizing in 2020 and 2021 to ensure a strong and representative turnout for the strike authorization vote, and participating in the digital and physical pickets during the 2021 strike. During my time organizing with GWC and listening to student workers, I have become familiar with the wide disparities in working conditions and compensation/ benefit situations across CUMC. These disparities are unacceptable. We need a strong contract as soon as possible to address these disparities and guarantee long overdue improvements in living and working conditions.

We cannot rely on Columbia to provide the economic benefits and workplace protections we deserve. We need a contract to secure these rights and protections, and we need it now. This urgency is further highlighted by Columbia offering 0% pay raises; continued elimination of the 100 health care plan; refusal to increase health insurance coverage of premiums; stagnation of the woefully inadequate child care subsidy; lack of a procedure for filing grievances; and having no clear path to resolve urgent issues such as health and safety concerns in laboratory environments.

Winning a stronger agreement will take unity, solidarity, and increased engagement of our unit. I am committed to organizing within our unit, listening to workers’ concerns and priorities, and encouraging all unit members to be involved in fighting for a stronger contract. Through collective action and extensive organizing, we can build enough power together to build upon the wins we have already achieved at the bargaining table, and to ensure our decisions democratically reflect the needs of a majority of workers.

I will do everything I can to make sure that all student workers are guaranteed fair and equitable working conditions, compensation/benefits, and workplace protections, and that their diverse needs and concerns are represented at the bargaining table. If elected, I will work with all my fellow bargaining committee members to base our strategy in organizing and engaging the majority of student workers in every department, across Columbia.

I come from a union family, and I stand in solidarity with all my union siblings at GWC. I am continuously inspired by my union siblings’ tireless work to gain important workplace rights and protections over the years. I am eager to continue their work to finally achieve a fair and equitable contract.


Lukas Vlahos

My name is Lukas Vlahos, and I’m a 4th year Ph.D. student working in the Systems Biology department on the CUIMC campus. Previously, I’ve served as president of the Graduate Student Organization and helped advocate for our representation in the university senate once the medical campus was split from the student body government at large. Now, I’m running for a seat on the Bargaining Committee. 

I believe that the rejection of our first tentative agreement demonstrates that Columbia needs to do better. I’ve talked to students on both the medical and main campus who want to push for higher pay, better healthcare, and stronger protections agaisnt harassment and discrimination. These are rights and benefits that we as graduate students deserve and that Columbia as an institution can no doubt afford, and with continued and improved organization, some gains should be possible. 

At the same time, I recognize that nearly half of the student body voted YES on the agreement. To me, this indicates that while the previous contract wasn’t perfect, many in our unit are eager to gain recognition from Columbia and access the benefits and protections of a union contract as soon as possible. Moreover, while fighting for the perfect contract is a principled idea, there is also a serious need to listen to unit member’s and consider the costs of engaging in further strike actions going forward. 

The urgent need for a fair contract is further highlighted by the meager benefits the university has offered in the absence of an agreement; 0% pay raises this year, 100 plan elimination, and no implementation of grievance procedures that give us recourse for late pay, health and safety violations, and other workplace issues. Without a union contract, we cannot rely on the benevolence of Columbia to provide the economic benefits and protections we need until we have them secured – even in an imperfect form – in a contract. 

Achieving these goals will take unity and increased engagement of our unit. I believe this will require thousands of conversations with our coworkers, listening to their priorities and concerns, and asking them to get involved in fighting for a stronger contract. Only extensive organizing will help us build enough power to get more out of Columbia and simultaneously provide enough information to the Bargaining Committee to ensure our decisions democratically reflect the needs of our unit. 

If elected, I will work with fellow bargaining committee members to base our strategy in engaging the majority of student workers in every department in our campaign, fighting for the best contract we can without placing an undue burden on members of the union.