By Nelson Gomez
The Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers isn’t just a union for graduate students: Undergraduate course assistants, teaching assistants, and graders are also welcome in the bargaining unit. In order to better represent themselves, organizers have recently pushed to get undergrads more involved in the union through town hall organization and direct outreach. Two of my undergrad coworkers were even ready to pledge support and join the organizing committee....
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....