Progressive Caucus members joined over 160 local leaders in support of organizing efforts by Columbia University employees. They joined student advocates on December 4th to deliver the following statement:
As elected and community leaders in the greater New York City area, we write to urge Columbia University to stop opposing the right of its research and teaching assistants (RAs and TAs) to choose collective bargaining.
These employees play a critical role in quality teaching and research at Columbia. By teaching thousands of undergraduates, and conducting innovative research that helps bring roughly $1 billion in grants and contracts to the University each year, RAs and TAs make Columbia a world leader academically and make it an important economic engine in New York City.
As a majority of these workers have chosen GWC-UAW Local 2110 as their union, they join RAs and TAs at New York University, who now have a collective bargaining agreement that has made NYU a more competitive, accessible and inclusive institution, as well as RAs and TAs at more than 60 major public university campuses who have engaged in collective bargaining for decades.
Out of respect for the important work RAs and TAs provide at Columbia and for the democratic process, we urge the Columbia administration to recognize their right to collective bargaining and publicly commit to the following:
• Columbia will refrain from any further legal or other actions that would delay graduate employees’ right to choose collective bargaining;
• Columbia will ensure a free and fair election on unionization by refraining from any effort to influence RAs and TAs in their decision to vote yes or no for GWC-UAW; and
• Columbia will commence good-faith negotiations for a contract immediately upon confirmation of a majority vote by RAs and TAs in favor of GWC-UAW as their union
Update: The National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-1 Tuesday, August 23rd, that graduate students working as teaching or research assistants at private universities are employees with the right to collective bargaining.
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