Feb

1

Graduate Student Workers Protest Columbia’s Decision To Not Bargain For a Contract

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The protest on Low Steps earlier today

Columbia graduate students, undergrads, community members, and students of other New York City schools gathered today on Low Steps to protest Columbia’s decision not to bargain with the Graduate Student Union for a contract and to instead “let the legal process run its course.”

The protesters met at 12 PM and began with chants like “What do we want? / Contract! / When do we want it? / Now! / If we don’t get it / shut it down!”, “What’s disgusting? / Union busting!”, and “The workers / united / will never be defeated!”

From the protest

Around 12:40 PM, the protest turned into a march around Low with some of the same chants. It continues until a little bit before 1:00 PM. At that time two protesters tried to enter Low, but the doors had been locked.

The protest ended with chants of “What’s the next step in this fight? / We’ve got the power to strike, strike, strike!”

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    lol just strike. It's not that hard.

  2. Anonymous

    I applaud the university for fighting this ridiculous union. If the grad students don't like it, they are free to go to another university at any time (that doesn't give them all the perks of Columbia).

    • Anonymous

      Right. but CU needs them as much as they need CU.

      First, the university can't replace all of them in any reasonable amount of time, so a well-coordinated strike has less cost. If a significant portion (that don't have weak hands) strike, research grinds to a halt. Projects start falling behind, and professors start burning grant money with zero return. In turn, the lack of productivity will cause future grants to shrink. Simple. Bleed the school dry.

      Eventually, Columbia' rankings and funding will fall and CU's reputation will be tarnished. If CU were to go the route of the great Ronald Reagan and fire all the grad students, imagine how shitty they'd look to the next batch of grad students and how stupid they'd look to the people writing them checks. When you can't keep your house in order, how can you be trusted with a billions of dollars?

      Now, imagine if CU plays ball! They skyrocket in the rankings across the board and come off as a progressive student-friendly environment. Applications are through the roof. Meanwhile, grad students are happy, and happy workers mean more productive workers, which fuels a virtuous cycle of more grant money to CU. Within a couple of years, any raises given and costs incurred (even on the order of 2X) would be dwarfed by increased returns. Unfortunately, most of these administrators have never worked a day in their lives. If they have, they were lawyers who never signed the front of a paycheck or contributed to any real growth in the economy. Thus, they have no idea and are incapable of meaningful analysis.

      The weak link here are the foreign grad students (mainly from China). They'll cross the picket line at the drop of a hat because not only are they more susceptible to believing threats — given their upbringing under authoritarian regimes — they also have a lot more to lose if they are terminated and sent back to their countries.

      If Universities can exploit their monopoly status, it's only fair that grad students should be entitled to monopsony.

  3. Anonymous

    Micky Soviet, famous labor negotiator and the secret driver of the 1968 riots, brought unions to Columbia in the early 1980s. Before that, Columbia had the most decent, brightest staff. Then security guards started raping students in TC dorms.

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