By Nelson Gomez, Caitlin Blanchfield, Ali Ugurlu, Rachel Meirs, Jeff Sherman, Naye Idriss, Laura Veit, and George Kimson
On Feb. 6 and 7, members of the Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers came together at the ballot box. We elected new members of our Bargaining Committee and voted overwhelmingly in support of two provisions to ensure open and transparent bargaining between our union and the Columbia management. The referenda were a precedent-setting victory for our union members. We sought to learn from previous negative experiences in other academic unions, when key aspects of negotiations with employers took place over the summer while large numbers of workers were not on campus. The practice was especially problematic in the case of the University of California’s graduate workers, whose most recent contract—by most indications a losing and regressive one—was negotiated and voted on during the summer of 2018....