Over 96% of respondents to the ratification vote agreed to cement the Tentative Agreement, resulting in the first contract between the SWC and Columbia.
In a vote that ended at 11:59 pm last night, the Student Workers of Columbia have agreed to ratify the Tentative Agreement they reached with Columbia on January 6. The vote, which passed with 96.7% of respondents voting in favor of the ratification, is the concluding note to the 10-week strike that disrupted classes and student life. In response to the results, Provost Mary C. Boyce stated that the agreed-upon terms will “enable the highest level of scholarly achievement and personal fulfillment” for Columbia students in the SWC. The full text of the email can be found below. The newly-ratified agreement will be the first contract the SWC has had with the University.
On the morning of January 7, following the SWC and Columbia’s consensus on the draft of the Tentative Agreement the evening prior, the union’s leadership held a vote to determine whether to end the strike. The results of this vote indicated that 93.9% of 1,134 respondents wished to cease the strike. As the SWC’s bylaws dictate, this referendum set into motion a 15-day discussion period wherein union members had the opportunity to review the terms of the Tentative Agreement. The discussion period ended on January 21, and the vote to ratify the Tentative Agreement subsequently ran from January 22 to January 27.
The draft of the Tentative Agreement includes compromises as well as full concessions from both parties. Over the course of mediation, the University showed notable movement on many of the SWC’s key demands: the demands for dental insurance, neutral arbitration in cases of discrimination or harassment, and full recognition of the bargaining unit have all been partially or entirely fulfilled. The SWC accepted the University’s provision to allow PhD student employees and eligible dependents to enroll in a vision plan offered to students, but the University will not be covering vision premiums.
Aspects of student life disrupted by the SWC’s strike activity have largely returned to normal, and many striking instructors are currently teaching spring semester courses. With a no-strike clause included in the agreement, members of the Columbia community can expect this calm to last until at least June 2025, the end date of the contract.
Email from Provost Mary C. Boyce sent to members of the Columbia community on Friday, January 28, at 4:06 pm:
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,
I am very pleased to report that Student Workers of Columbia-UAW has voted to ratify its first contract with the University. SWC-UAW announced that, out of a total of 2,150 votes cast, over 97% voted in favor of ratification.
The agreement between the University and SWC-UAW represents one of the most comprehensive and generous contracts between a private university and students who assume significant pedagogical and research responsibilities as part of their academic training. Its articles address specific concerns identified by our students during their studies at Columbia. All of us at the University will be beneficiaries of the concrete enhancements to the overall student experience.
Our principal goal throughout the process that led to this agreement has been to enable the highest level of scholarly achievement and personal fulfillment for our students in their roles, both as full-time students and as employees. We are confident that this contract will achieve that high purpose.
We look forward to working with the student leaders of SWC-UAW to enrich the vibrant academic environment that has always characterized Columbia. Our hope is that, together, we will find new opportunities to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to support our students, as well as recognize the important roles they play in the educational and research missions of this great institution.
Mary C. Boyce
Professor of Mechanical Engineering