A majority of teaching and research assistants at Columbia have voted to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board confirmed on Friday.
Graduate and undergraduate students voted 1602 to 623 in favor of joining Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers Union.
The vote makes Columbia the second private university in the nation where graduate students are represented by a national union.
In August, the National Labor Relations Board gave graduate students at private universities the right to unionize, overturning a 2004 decision. This ruling applied to all student employees who provided instructional services, including undergraduate teaching assistants and graduate research and teaching assistants.
The union will allow TAs and RAs to negotiate as a collective bargaining unit, and members will pay two percent of their stipend in union dues.
While the union and administrators will have to negotiate a formal bargaining agreement, unionization will likely institute a formalized grievance procedure, which GWC has made a central issue of their campaign in the months leading up to the election. The GWC will also likely focus on issues including compensation and healthcare in the upcoming negotiations.
University administrators advocated against unionization, arguing that that it would fundamentally change the relationship between students and faculty to one based on employment rather than academia. Administrators also argued that students would be better served by student government to address specific issues within each school, rather than a collective bargaining unit.
Students at the University will have one week to contest the way the election was conducted. If there are no such objections, the NLRB will move ahead and grant the group union certification.
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