The first day of the graduate student union strike

Photography by Spectator Photo Department

Article Image


Fifty years after the Columbia 1968 protests, the Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers officially went on strike, demanding the University recognize them as a union. The day began at the most famed location of protest on campus: the Sundial. Within the first hour of the demonstration, a couple hundred people had signed in to join the picket line, which occupied College Walk. Throughout the day, graduate workers on strike were joined by undergraduates, sympathy strikers, and other University staffers as they moved from College Walk to Alma Mater, marched around campus, and came back to College Walk to continue the picket line. No matter where you were on Tuesday, you probably heard the sounds of protest. After the graduate workers’ months-long fight with the University, Tuesday marked the first day of the strike likely to cause the largest disruption of classes in recent history.


Around 12 p.m., demonstrators gathered at the foot of Alma Mater to listen to speeches given by Anavelyse Allen-Mossman, Trevor Holt, and Tania Bhattacharyya of GWC-UAW along with Sonam Singh of the Barnard Contingent Faculty union. (Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)


Following the speeches, a few organizers led the demonstrators in singing a song about solidarity. At this moment, the mood was empowering, even celebratory. (Jaime Danies/Senior Staff Photographer)


(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

Demonstrators’ signs called on the administration to recognize their right to unionize.



Following the gathering near Alma for speeches, demonstrators marched around campus. (Jaime Danies/Senior Staff Photographer)

Many participants drew parallels to the Columbia protests of 1968. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic week of occupations. (Jaime Danies/Senior Staff Photographer)

(Aliya Schneider/Columbia Daily Spectator)

(Aliya Schneider/Columbia Daily Spectator)

During the speeches, a cohort of construction workers joined the rally.



1 p.m. marked a high point of the day. Demonstrators gathered around the Sundial for pizza following the march around campus. (Natalie Guerra/Staff Photographer)


(Cherrie Zheng/Staff Photographer)

(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

Signs were made over the weekend in preparation for the strike. They were kept on the sundial for demonstrators to pick up as they came and went from the picket line.



Although the demonstration took place in several different areas around campus, it always came back to the picket line. (Natalie Guerra/Staff Photographer)


(Arielle Shternfeld/Columbia Daily Spectator)

(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

(Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)

The march encompassed the perimeter of campus. As demonstrators passed Uris Hall, workers from the Uris Deli stood on the balcony in solidarity.



The picket line stretched the full length of College Walk, from the east to the west 116th Street gates. (Natalie Guerra/Staff Photographer)

A few furry friends found their way to the picket line, and wore union signs to support the strike. (Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)


Paid maternity leave and a clear process of reporting sexual harassment are two of several demands made by the graduate workers. (Kirill Buskirk/Staff Photographer)


While some undergraduates joined the picket line, others relaxed on the lawn despite the demonstration. (Katherine Gerberich/Senior Staff Photographer)



(Kirill Buskirk/Staff Photographer)

(Cherrie Zheng/Staff Photographer)

Many professors moved their classes off-campus in solidarity with the graduate workers. At least four classes were held in Riverside Park in the afternoon.



Signage made reference to other strikes taking place around the nation, like those of the West Virginia and Oklahoma teachers’ unions. (Jaime Danies/Senior Staff Photographer)