Inside the Bargaining Zoom: Two Years In, Graduate Students Still Fight for a Contract with Columbia
By Cole Cahill
The cast of characters at bargaining meetings between the Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers and the Columbia administration is almost always the same. Ludda Ludwig, a second-year doctoral candidate in earth and environmental science and a bargaining committee representative for GWC, listens patiently to yet another explanation of why Columbia believes that health benefits are outside the scope of a collective bargaining contract. Bernie Plum, the University’s outside counsel tasked with delivering these arguments—he previously represented Disney, the NBA, and the New York Times in their negotiations with employee unions—looks downward toward his screen as he speaks, glasses perched at the end of his nose....
By Cole Cahill
Back when Columbia was in-person, I made a regular habit of walking down Amsterdam to the Hungarian Pastry Shop. My trips usually started the same way: I would order and attempt to pay at the counter (with the cash I withdrew specifically for this event), only for the server to tell me, once again, that you pay when you leave. I’d take up too much space walking down the narrow corridor between tables and utter a consistent stream of apologies, primarily directed at the chairs I hit in my wake. I’d excuse-me my way to a table, pull out my laptop, and see that it had 9 percent battery remaining—barely enough to open a saved PDF, let alone write my essay. I’d confront the truth I’d known all along that intense productivity was not my top priority in coming here....