Current University Proposals
The University is committed to taking every reasonable step to end the strike. Here are the current proposals the University has put forward, which will be updated as progress continues.
- Minimum compensation for doctoral students of $42,766 for PhD students on 12-month appointments and $32,074 for students on 9-month appointments, with 3% annual increases;
- An increase in the summer stipend for PhD students funded on a 9-month basis to $4,750 for 2022, rising again to $5,250 for the summer of 2023, 30% over current levels;
- Immediate increases of no less than 5% for undergraduates and Master’s students holding appointments, increasing annually by 3%;
- Hourly wage increases of more than 10% to $19 per hour, going up to $21 per hour after three years, for other students performing research and instructional services.
- Doubling the annual child care subsidy for PhD student employees from $2,000 to $4,000 for each child not yet in kindergarten, with eligibility raised to age 6;
- To supplement the existing medical and dental benefit plans for students, creation of a Student Employee Support Fund to help defray the cost of any medical, dental, and vision expenses not already covered, with the amount of the Fund to be increased to $250,000 for the first year, increasing to $300,000 by the third year.
- Significant changes to University Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action policies and procedures that would strengthen the handling of discrimination and harassment grievances, including the opportunity to appeal an EOAA determination to a trained and independent outside decision-maker;
- An option for mediation if the Union is dissatisfied with the final determination by the independent outside decision-maker;
- An option to pursue a claim of discrimination or harassment to arbitration, after exhausting the EOAA process other than appeal, on the grounds of 1.) bias or conflict of interest on the part of the investigator involved in the determination of the claim or 2.) material new evidence not reasonably available at the time of the determination of the claim;
- Inclusion in the Agreement of the range of supportive accommodations and interim measures available, where appropriate, during the EOAA process;
- A commitment by the University to meet with the Union to discuss the effectiveness of the EOAA processes within 12 months of the agreement’s ratification;
- Where a change in a PhD student’s advisor is determined to be necessary, up to one semester’s funding to support the student in identifying a new advisor.
MEDIATION AND BARGAINING SESSION UPDATES
Over a series of recent sessions, the University presented the Union with a package of revised proposals on summer stipends, child care, a support fund for health care, and compensation for students on appointment and hourly workers. Collectively, these offers consolidate and substantially expand upon the provisions in the Tentative Agreement.
Columbia continues to engage in collective bargaining with SWC-UAW. The new union leadership has been given authority by its members to call a strike. To support faculty in navigating the current environment, we provide guidance on what faculty members legally can and cannot say to students at this time.
University Statement on the Harvard Agreement
We applaud Harvard University and its graduate student workers for reaching a 4-year contract that will go into effect immediately, following a 71% vote of approval by union members. The terms of the Harvard contract show that Columbia’s proposals are reasonable and provide a basis for reaching a fair agreement with our graduate student workers. We look forward to continuing mediation and ending the strike as soon as possible.
Student Workers of Columbia-UAW has agreed to begin mediation with the University as both sides work towards a final agreement.
After 18 months of remote education, the current strike is hampering efforts to rebuild our community. We are committed to taking every reasonable step to end the strike.
I write again to update you on negotiations with our student workers.
Tentative Agreement Highlights
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. Read more.
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. Read more.
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.
The University’s respective bargaining committees stand ready to engage the process in this manner and to reach agreement as expeditiously as possible.
Our principal goal is to ensure that every Columbia doctoral student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment.
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.