The UAW agreed to a backroom deal with Columbia University that would limit the right of graduate employees to strike for 17 months and severely weaken their bargaining power to negotiate a first contract. The Graduate Workers of Columbia must vote it down.
Photo: Jaime Danies/Columbia Spectator
Just days before the Thanksgiving break, Graduate workers at Columbia University in New York learned that the administration had finally agreed—after years of stalling—to formally recognize the Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC-UAW 2110) union and had agreed to a proposed bargaining framework for future negotiations.
This announcement was initially met with great celebration by many graduate workers at Columbia who have been fighting tirelessly to first build and then win recognition for their union since 2014. This jubilation, however, quickly turned sour as the details of the proposed negotiating framework and the process by which it was developed began to surface.
Not only had the United Auto Workers (UAW) bureaucrats negotiated the framework in secret, but they had done so without the input or involvement of any of the members of the bargaining committee, union organizers, or the wider membership. Worse, these same UAW negotiators had agreed to a framework that strictly prohibited any strike activity until April of 2020, a move that many union members have rightly argued would strip them of their most powerful weapon to win a swift and decent first contract.