After winning its union election with a 95% “yes” vote, the Columbia University Resident Advisor Collective has officially become a legally-recognized independent union, the first RA union of its kind in the United States.

The Columbia University Resident Advisor (CURA) Collective announced they have won their union formation vote, with 95% of current RAs voting in favor of unionization Tuesday morning. This election makes CURA the first legally-recognized independent RA union in the country, and the ninth RA union overall.

This election comes after nearly a year of organizing by CURA. The Collective’s first public action came in May 2022, when it circulated an open letter and petition demanding equal compensation for all RAs and open communication with Residential Life after several weeks of discussing these issues internally. After the initial petition, the collective saw numerous wins throughout the past year, including a change in compensation in July 2022, an additional raise in December, and a drastic reduction to weekend duty shifts in January 2023. However, in February, the University declined to recognize the collective’s newly-minted union status, placing President Bollinger’s office on lockdown when a group of RAs attempted to deliver their union recognition letter. In response, CURA organized a campus-wide protest, featuring a variety of community supporters, including local politicians and members of other local unions. The Collective officially filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on February 26, and ballots were distributed to RAs in late March

CURA’s election comes after similar developments in the Barnard Resident Assistants Union, which officially formed in October 2022 and filed for recognition with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, rather than forming as an independent union.   

A CURA spokesperson told Bwog, “This win has been over a year in the making—the result of our election shows just how powerful collective action is, and how ready RAs are to start bargaining with Columbia for a contract!” In addition, they shared the collective’s goals for forthcoming bargaining processes, which include improving the living conditions in residence halls and expanding access to physical and mental healthcare for all students.

CURA also shared that they intend to aid other student workers on campus in organizing their workplaces, saying, “We’re looking forward to building solidarity, community, and worker power at Columbia!”

Alma via Bwog Archives