Frequently Asked Questions

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) establishes which subjects must be bargained over.  Terms and conditions of employment, such as pay, benefits, vacation and leave can be expected to be addressed in the contract.  Also relevant is the Framework Agreement, ratified by a substantial majority of the members of the two unions.  It explains that subjects concerning academic judgments in service of Columbia’s teaching and research mission are not intended by the parties to be subjects of bargaining.  This additional guidance should allow a contract to be reached more quickly than otherwise would be the case.

Bargaining is required only over terms and conditions of employment that are covered by the NLRA as further informed by guidance provided by the Framework Agreement

Yes. In this collective bargaining process, the union speaks and acts for all students in the bargaining unit. The provisions in the labor contract negotiated by the union will apply to all unit members, unless the contract explicitly provides for exceptions.

The University’s legal counsel and representative in these negotiations has a demonstrated record of achieving collective bargaining agreements with unions in a wide variety of industries, almost always without a strike or lockout.  We value their help in moving this negotiation to an expeditious and productive conclusion. 

It should not.  Conference attendance, the venue for field work or outside research, and other such activities are within the academic realm reserved to the University. 

A ratification vote, by the local membership, is required for a collective bargaining agreement.  This typically happens shortly after a tentative agreement is reached between the bargaining representatives (union and employer).

Yes, faculty may continue to teach on Zoom or through CourseWorks.

Yes, to determine the extent to which classes or research time must be “made up,” faculty may ask graduate students whether they performed their research or instructional work (including whether their classes, recitation sections and/or office hours were held) during the strike. Faculty may discuss with graduate students whether they intend to make up missed work and their plans for doing so. Any other discussion concerning participation in the strike should be avoided.  

Yes, graduate students may choose to make up the work that they missed while on strike and receive compensation. In order to be paid the salary and/or stipend that they were not paid while on strike, student officers of instruction should complete any make-up work no later than the scheduled final exam in the course (or April 23 if there is no final exam in the course), and student officers of research should complete any make-up work no later than April 30.

Yes, recitation sections may be combined under an available instructor.

Nothing prevents striking students from making such requests, but schools and departments have the right to continue with conferences, workshops, and other programming/events that support their academic mission during a strike.

Final grades are due for graduating students on May 14, 2021.  For non-graduating students, grades are due on May 20, 2021.  If an instructor is certain that a student has earned a passing grade in the course, but is unable to calculate the final, permanent grade by the deadline because some work has not yet been graded, then an interim grade of “Registrar’s Grade” or “RG” may be recorded. The “RG” will allow the student to complete requirements toward the degree or certificate program. If there are circumstances where no final grade can yet be assigned—either a permanent grade or the provisional “RG” grade—the instructor or department should contact the Registrar, Barry Kane ([email protected]).

Yes, the University has the right to do the work necessary to minimize disruption to students. Faculty and non-striking students may lead recitation sections, hold office hours, and grade papers, exams and assignments in place of striking TAs.  Faculty also may seek assistance from individuals outside of the bargaining unit (e.g. former TAs). As always, the instructor of record remains responsible for recording and submitting final grades.

Please see guidance available here.

Negotiating a first contract between parties typically demands long hours at the bargaining table and the resolution of a host of complex and often unforeseen issues.  While it is difficult to predict when an agreement will be reached, the University’s respective bargaining committees are prepared to reach agreement as expeditiously as possible and available to attend bargaining sessions regardless of whether the University is in session.