Columbia to bargain with grad student union

  • November 19, 2018

Columbia University said today it would bargain with its graduate student union, ending a years-long standoff with labor organizers.

Board Certified Grad Student Union

A framework agreement announced by the university “sets forth mutually agreed upon principles to guide negotiations toward collective bargaining agreements on wages, hours, and other working conditions for Columbia’s student research and teaching assistants and for our diverse postdoc community,” Lee Bollinger, the university president, said in a written statement.

Columbia refused to bargain with its graduate student union after a precedent-setting National Labor Relations Board decision in 2016, which found that student assistants working at private colleges are allowed to unionize. Early this year, Columbia administrators said they would seek review in federal appellate court.

Administrators faced a Dec. 4 strike deadline set by the union, according to the Columbia Spectator, which first reported the agreement. The NLRB certified the union last year.

The agreement announced today “includes substantive principles reflecting the respective interests of the parties,” Bollinger wrote. “For Columbia, chief among these interests is that any collectively bargained agreement will not infringe upon the integrity of the University’s academic decision making and that Columbia will retain the exclusive right to manage the institution consistent with our educational and research mission.”

Negotiations are scheduled to begin no later than Feb. 26.