Graduate Workers of Columbia University-UAW has announced that votes are counted and graduate students at Columbia have voted to unionize. This comes after the National Labor Relations Board ruled this summer that graduate students at universities throughout the United States should be able to unionize, overturning a 2004 precedent-setting case involving Brown University.
This year’s case involved specifically Columbia University graduate students, after they pushed for unionization for two years. After the ruling this summer, Columbia University Media Relations Director Caroline Adelman made a statement disagreeing with the NLRB’s decision, stating “While we are reviewing the ruling, Columbia — along with many of our peer institutions — disagrees with this outcome because we believe the academic relationship students have with faculty members and departments as part of their studies is not the same as between employer and employee.” Keep in mind this is the statement regarding this summers allowing of a vote, rather than the newly announced vote outcome to utilize the ruling and unionize at Columbia. However, Columbia has advertised (through promoted social media posts) a website advocating to vote against unionization.
Update 12/9/16 6:00pm: Columbia has released their official statement on the vote in an email from the provost.
Statement from Columbia University’s Provost John Coatsworth:
Since the last week of August, when the NLRB reversed its position and decided that students at private universities may be treated as employees, Columbia’s administration has communicated two principal messages to our University community and to eligible voters: We have always believed that the magnitude of the decision at issue in this election, in combination with Columbia’s values, required an open and respectful conversation that explained the arguments for and against unionization. Having heard those arguments, the research and teaching assistants who voted have chosen to be represented by the United Auto Workers.
Second, as I said in my letter of August 24 to the Columbia community: “Regardless of the outcome of the election, we will continue to ensure that Columbia remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment.” This sentiment remains as true today as it was then.
Media Relations Director
Office of Communications and Public Affairs