Union Votes Down Tentative Agreement

Columbia negotiated with GWC-UAW’s elected bargaining team in good faith over two years and more than 70 negotiating sessions. We are disappointed that GWC-UAW members did not approve the Agreement that the two bargaining committees worked so hard to achieve. We believe the Agreement is fair and addresses all of the issues set out by the Union, including changes to the EOAA process, increases in compensation and improvements in benefits such as healthcare support and child care. 

                                                     -Dan Driscoll, Vice President of Human Resources


Highlights of the Tentative Agreement

EOAA Processes and Procedures

The Tentative Agreement provides changes to EOAA processes and procedures, including an appeal to a trained, independent appellate officer from outside the University. The revisions expand the scope of an appeal by providing three additional grounds: the investigator had a conflict of interest or bias affecting the outcome; there were disputed issues or questions concerning interpretation of University policy affecting the outcome; and the Complainant’s allegations were substantiated, but the proposed changes to working conditions are insufficiently protective of Complainant or unnecessarily disruptive. The revisions also provide that interviews of the parties and witnesses will be recorded and made available to the parties; the parties will have the right to inspect, review, and respond to the evidence prior to the conclusion of the EOAA investigation; and the parties may review the investigative report when complete.


The Tentative Agreement establishes, effective August 1, 2021, a uniform minimum total support level during guaranteed years for PhD Student Employees on twelve-month appointments of $42,350, pro-rated for shorter appointments (e.g., $31,763 for nine-month appointments), increasing annually at a minimum of 3 percent. The School of Social Work and certain programs in the Mailman School of Public Health will phase-in to the uniform minimum over two years. The Tentative Agreement also provides compensation increases of no less than 5% for undergraduate and Master’s students who hold appointments, increasing annually by no less than 3%. In addition, a side letter to the Tentative Agreement provides minimums for students compensated on an hourly basis of $17 per hour, effective August 1, 2021; $18.50 per hour, effective August 1, 2022; and $20 per hour effective August 1, 2023.

Health Benefits, Child Care Benefits, and Leaves of Absence

The Tentative Agreement provides, effective August 15, 2021, that the University shall establish a Student Employee Support Fund in the amount of $200,000, increasing to $225,000 in the second year of the agreement, and to $250,000 in the third year. Student Employees may apply for reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses from the Fund. The Tentative Agreement also provides for an increased child care subsidy for PhD Student Employees of $4,000 per year per child under the age of five and provides for up to two weeks of paid sick leave for Student Employees on appointment.

Our Approach

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Productive negotiations are characterized by transparency and by both parties’ good-faith commitment to the time consuming and complicated work required to reach an initial collective bargaining agreement.

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Bargaining Committees

The University’s respective bargaining committees stand ready to engage the process in this manner and to reach agreement as expeditiously as possible.

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Our principal goal is to ensure that every Columbia doctoral student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment.

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Framework Agreement

The Framework Agreement for bargaining makes clear that academic judgments in service of our educational and research mission shall remain the prerogative of the University.

Bargaining Sessions Prior to Mediation

April 1, 2021

The University presented its cost analysis of the Union’s revised proposals. The University suggested mediation.

March 30, 2021

The University presented a revised proposal on Health Benefits. The Union presented a package of revised proposals, including on Health Benefits, Fee Waivers, and Compensation.

March 25, 2021

The Union caucused for the duration of the scheduled session. The parties agreed to meet again on March 30, 2021.

March 23, 2021

The University presented enhancements to the EOAA appeals process to address the Union’s request for an independent, third-party review of EOAA determinations.

March 18, 2021

The University and the Union continued negotiations.

March 16, 2021

The University and the Union continued negotiations.