What’s Not Working for Barnard Workers

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Remember this? Last spring, Columbia, Barnard and Teacher’s College staff rallied down Broadway, protesting the proposed changes to the contracts of UAW Local 2110 members, which encompasses workers on staff at the college. The union’s current contract with Barnard is set to expire at the end of this coming June, and as negotiations continue through the fall workers have garnered significant support from community members. This strong support stems from the integral role that office workers and “dormitory access attendants” play on the campus, and, as the union articulates in a petition published on their website, the strong history that the union, and many of its individual members, have at the college. The petition, addressed to President Spar, states:

The Administration is demanding major cutbacks from us in our basic benefits, such as health care and retirement benefits.

We are the lowest paid group on campus, and most of us are women and people of color. We cannot afford benefit cuts. As it is, we support ourselves and our families by living paycheck to paycheck.

Anyone who signs the petition receives an automatic email from President Spar, who tells them that although it is “not appropriate for [her] to comment on active negotiations,” the situation might be explained by the following:

As I am sure you are aware, Barnard is focused on dealing with the current economic slowdown, along with a structural deficit. This has required tightening our collective belt in nearly every area, and trying to be as consistent and sustainable as we can—something that is certainly hard, but unfortunately necessary. While I understand that many of the proposed changes feel difficult, all other groups at the College, including the faculty and administration, have experienced similar measures in the past few years. This is a challenge we must address together.

She also says that she has “tremendous faith in the process” and is “confident that they will come to fair and workable decisions soon.”

If you want to support Barnard workers and/or receive an email from President Spar, you can sign the petition here.

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  1. Anonymous

    This is the first comment

  2. Anonymous


  3. Anonymous

    "..and most of us are women and people of color."

    Why does that matter? Are they suggesting they deserve more than if they were white men?

    Instant respect lost for playing the race and gender cards.

  4. CC 14  

    let's not demonize barnard too much; they are goddamn broke

    cf. mandatory meal plans
    cf. no senior part time registration
    cf. barnard housing

  5. Anonymous

    "Feel difficult"? "A challenge we must address together"? OK, Barnard, I get you're having serious serious money problems, but it just seems tacky for a college president to expect struggling employees to appreciate her sympathy when they've lost their health insurance.

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