We are members of GWC who believe in building the power and confidence of our union’s rank and file members. Our vision is one of a union that’s run by an active and involved membership, that fights for our best interests as undergraduate and graduate workers, and that has the courage to hold accountable those above us who would make decisions for us without us.
As a union, we are entering into bargaining with Columbia dictated by the terms of a framework agreement negotiated without the knowledge of our membership. We believe open, healthy, and democratic reform of our union is necessary to bolster our autonomy as workers and ensure we negotiate the strongest possible protections for our members. A union that is powered by its rank and file — our fellow undergraduate and graduate workers — fights not only for its members’ best interests but also for equity and justice in the wider community. We believe that when workers across campuses, across workplaces, and across social strata unite, all of us are stronger in our struggle for more support, more control, and more dignity in our lives.
Meet Our Slate.
To ensure principled representation of rank and file interests at the bargaining table, C-AWDU endorses for bargaining committee:
Jurisdiction: Biomedical Sciences/CUMC/Public Health
I’m a first-year MPH candidate studying forced migration and a TA in Mailman’s Department of Population and Family Health. I became involved with GWC at the beginning of my program after realizing many of our peers are chronically paid late or not at all. This unacceptable condition is one of many pervasive abuses of power I hope to help the union address by negotiating a transformative contract. My experiences in the nonprofit sector, including organizing against exploitation in the midst of the European refugee crisis, and in the service industry have shaped my understanding of workplace injustice and collective action. As a BC member, I would bring a willingness to learn from and be accountable to my fellow graduate and undergraduate workers throughout the bargaining process.
Driven by workers’ priorities, my goals on the BC would be to negotiate the strongest possible protections for GWC members and give voice to my colleagues at CUMC and in other Masters programs. As a member of C-AWDU, I’m committed to fully open bargaining without secret negotiations. If elected, I’ll fight to ensure transparency within the union so regular GWC members can meaningfully participate in building a safe environment that supports and respects each of us. Any contract worth ratifying will implement effective grievance procedures, rightful health care benefits (dental, vision, and mental health) and increased payment. By aiming higher, we can strengthen our own rights and benefits, lift economic inclusion in higher education, and advance broader labor and social justice movements.
Jurisdiction: GSAS Humanities and Social Sciences
I’m a second year PhD student and TA in Sociology, and an organizer with the Graduate Workers of Columbia. I’m running for a seat on the Bargaining Committee because I want to fight not only for the contract we want, but the kind of union we want.
If elected, I pledge to center the everyday issues of graduate and undergraduate workers in fully open bargaining sessions like making sure we’re paid on time and paid for work that exceeds clear expectations of our jobs. Robust, and equal healthcare plans that allow us to take care of ourselves so we can teach our students. Protections against harassment and discrimination that help eradicate the ways that heteropatriarchy and white supremacy enter into our working conditions.
This past year, both Columbia University and UAW executives’ willingness to broker deals behind the backs of our entire union unit show that our union must not only be prepared to struggle against a recalcitrant employer, but to defend that no decisions about us will be made without us. With my fellow C-AWDU candidates, I will protect your voice at the bargaining table.
We are in a moment in the U.S. where teachers, adjunct faculty, and other graduate workers are rising up to demand the dignity of fair wages, and protection from harassment and exploitation. The fight for us and our students today, ensures a better university tomorrow. It would be an honor for me to help build that future with you on the Bargaining Committee.
Jurisdiction: GSAS Humanities and Social Sciences
I’m a second-year PhD student and TA in Philosophy with interests in feminist philosophy of science, John Dewey’s Logic, and metaethics. After organizing in GWC for a year and a half, I strongly believe that all workers in the bargaining unit deserve a larger say in the internal governance, strategic decisions, and contract negotiations of our union. All members should feel welcome and able to participate in shaping GWC’s direction according to desire and capacity, and should enjoy transparent access to important union information. I’m a member of Columbia Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, and if I’m elected, I pledge to center and amplify unit members’ voices and demands, take criticism and learn from my mistakes, and fight as hard and creatively as I can for a strong and just contract for all members of the unit.
During negotiations, I intend to push, among many other things, for guaranteed sixth and seventh year funding for doctoral workers who need it, a subsidy that actually makes full-time child care for working parents affordable, reasonable access for all TAs to functional teaching facilities, real recourse – not silence – for sexual harassment and other grievances that respects people’s preferences for anonymity, and timely, fair, and proportionate compensation for our labor. I believe that, after nearly two decades of fighting, GWC has the potential to win a contract that sets a new standard for undergraduate and graduate working conditions across the country, and I am excited to be a part of that project.
Jurisdiction: Professional/Other Schools
I’m a fourth year doctoral candidate in Architecture History, working on late 19th-century German imperialism in the Ottoman Empire. While labor politics and workers’ movements are central to my research, I’ve also been active in the union since our election in 2016, organizing for election and strike turnouts, and reaching out to workers and allies across campus.
Like workers everywhere, us undergraduate and graduate TAs and RAs deserve fair compensation for our labor and we need to receive that compensation on time. We need protection against sexual harassment and discrimination that actually works instead of doing more harm. With PhD requirements often reaching into year four, we need guaranteed sixth- and seventh- year funding to finish our degrees. We need childcare subsidies high enough to make it feasible to be both a graduate worker and a parent. These, and many others, are the issues I aim to fight for in the upcoming negotiations.
Since the bargaining process will set a precedent at this university and beyond, how we get to a contract matters. Being part of C-AWDU, I strongly believe in a union run by its members. For me that means a commitment to fully open bargaining: only a truly democratic and transparent process gets the goods. It also means that should I be elected I’m committed to listening to you, debating with you, and pushing for what matters to you. Let’s use the strength we’ve built over many years of collective action and negotiate the contract we deserve.