Dining, clerical, and technical staff at Columbia University, unionized with SEIU 1199, are waging a “Vote No” campaign after their union leaders agreed to an unacceptable tentative agreement. The proposed contract offers only three-percent raises per year, when inflation is hovering around nine percent — an effective pay cut. Library officers who supervise some of these workers are receiving raises of six percent, which is also far too low. This is the result of closed-door bargaining divorced from the rank and file. Rank-and-file volunteers were recruited to serve as contract captains back in June, but were routinely excluded from the negotiations.
In the late hours of January 6, after more than two months on strike, the Student Workers of Columbia (SWC-UAW) reached a tentative agreement for their union’s first contract with Columbia University. Contract wins include significant raises for workers, bringing annual compensation for those on 9-month appointments to just over $40,000 and raising the minimum wage for hourly workers from $15 to $21. SWC members also won dental insurance, childcare stipends, and an emergency healthcare fund available to all union members. They also won full recognition of all student workers as part of the bargaining unit and provisions for neutral arbitration of harassment and bullying cases. Full details have yet to be released to the public.
Last week saw a sharp escalation of the strike by 3,000 student workers at Columbia University in New York City, which continues in the face of strikebreaking threats by the administration. In an effort to shut down the walkout before finals, the university warned striking student workers that it might replace them in the Spring semester if they remained on strike beyond Friday, December 10. Columbia workers rejected this attempt at economic blackmail and held out on the picket line. A poll conducted by the Student Workers of Columbia union (SWC) bargaining committee found that 87 percent of union members and nearly 77 percent of supporters of the strike wished for the strike to continue.
New York City - Thousands of striking Columbia University graduate student workers are vowing to “shut down” the campus Wednesday with a major picket line aimed at highlighting the university’s threat to fire those who are still on strike by December 10. In a year marked by labor strikes, one of the largest and most contentious is happening at one of the most elite bastions of American higher education. The 3,000 members of the Student Workers of Columbia, members of UAW Local 2110, have been on strike since early November, seeking a livable wage, improved health and dental benefits, and stronger protections from sexual harassment and discrimination. The union and the school have been in mediation for weeks now, and the ongoing contract negotiations stretch back long before that — a tentative agreement was reached in April, but rejected by union members in May.
New York City - On Wednesday, November 8, Columbia student workers (UAW Local 2110) held one of the largest pickets yet of their six-week strike to demand increased wages to meet costs of living, neutral third-party arbitration, and comprehensive healthcare benefits. Workers from unions throughout New York City such as the CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) at NYU, the Teamsters, and NewsGuild of New York showed up to join the picket in solidarity with the striking workers. They picketed various entrances, encouraging those who attempted to enter the university to not cross the picket line. As a healthcare worker in New York City, I attended the picket to show my solidarity with the striking workers.
Over 3,000 Columbia graduate student workers have been on strike since November 3. This is the latest in a series of actions by graduate students workers in universities across the US, many of which are extremely wealthy. The Columbia graduate student workers are demanding fair pay and healthcare benefits. The Student Workers of Columbia has been negotiating a contract with the university for more than four years now.
By Catie Edmondson, Teo Armus, and Cauver Suresh for Columbia Daily Spectator - Sixteen members of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice are conducting an indefinite sit-in inside Low Library to demand that the University divest from the fossil fuel industry. The group—which has been campaigning for this goal since its founding in fall 2012—may be in potential violation of the Rules of Conduct. While CDCJ had a meeting with Bollinger scheduled for Apr. 29, the group is demanding for Bollinger to meet with them immediately and issue a statement in support of divesting from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
By Elana Schor and Hadas Gold for Poitico - ExxonMobil is hurling ethics accusations against a team of Columbia University journalists whose reporting helped stoke calls for probes into whether the company deliberately misled the public about climate change. The oil giant went on the offensive in a Nov. 20 letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. It comes as investigations by the Columbia journalists in the Los Angeles Times and a separate report by the nonprofit website InsideClimate News continue to stoke Democratic calls for a federal probe into whether the company concealed its internal understanding of the global warming threat posed by burning fossil fuels.