In a meeting this evening, SGA voted unanimously in favor of releasing a statement supporting graduate student unionization, making SGA the first student government body on campus to do so.
In August 2016, the National Labor Relations Board ruled to allow graduate students at US universities to unionize, in a case that involved the Graduate Workers of Columbia University petitioning to join United Auto Workers Local 2110. Following this case, Graduate Workers of Columbia University-UAW voted to unionize on December 2016 as well.
SGA emailed the statement directly to President Bollinger and Provost John H. Coatsworth, in addition to issuing the statement via Facebook and an email to the student body.
Below is the full statement for your convenience.
Recently, we were approached by Student-Worker Solidarity to issue a statement of support for the GWC-UAW Local 2110 Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC). At tonight’s SGA meeting, we voted, unanimously, to issue the following statement. This statement has been emailed to both the Office of the President and the Provost of Columbia University in the City of New York:
SGA recognizes and supports the efforts of the Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW Local 2110 (GWC). We believe that Columbia’s graduate and undergraduate student workers are entitled to livable wages that are paid on time, adequate benefits, clear workload expectations, and consistent and transparent employment policies.
As representatives of Barnard’s student body, we feel compelled to speak out on this issue due to the presence of Barnard students in Columbia classes that are TA’ed by student assistants represented by GWC. Working conditions are learning conditions. It is essential that the administration grants fair and equitable working conditions to graduate workers, not only because it is their right, but also because how they are treated directly impacts our education as Barnard students.
With President Trump’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board positioned to disregard workers’ rights at large, and potentially graduate workers’ right to unionize, it is vital that Columbia respect the democratic decision of research and teaching assistants to unionize.
Therefore, we call upon President Bollinger and Columbia University to recognize the union, drop the objections, and bargain in good faith.