Negotiations Are Already Adding Value

Here are some current benefits that graduate students enjoy. Moreover, several tentative agreements have been reached.

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Columbia University’s graduate students are an invaluable part of our community, and Columbia is committed to finding common ground with the students in the hopes that a contract can be reached. Since February 2019, Columbia has been participating in frequent bargaining sessions to find agreement on issues with its graduate students related to the terms and conditions of their work as teaching and research assistants. Several issues have been agreed upon and there have been productive discussions with the graduate students’ union representatives toward agreement on others.

Q: What are the existing supports for Columbia graduate students?

A: Current benefits for graduate students vary from school to school, but the majority of students involved in the bargaining negotiations are doctoral students in the Arts and Sciences. Some of their existing supports include a guaranteed five-year funding package consisting of stipend/salary, guaranteed housing at Columbia, full tuition remission, fully covered health insurance premiums for students and their dependents, and membership to Dodge gym.  

Q: What important issues have been resolved through negotiations for graduate students and the GWC-UAW?

A: Several issues have been tentatively agreed upon between Columbia and the graduate student union. A few of them include employment files, travel and workspace and materials.

On the employment files issue, Columbia has agreed to permit graduate students to review their employment files and to keep them confidential. Additionally, graduate students may submit a statement regarding information in the file with which they disagree. This is important to the union representatives because now students will have the ability to provide context to any work issue that might have arisen during their time at Columbia.

Under the travel agreement, students shall receive travel advances, direct travel funding, or timely reimbursement of expenses in accordance with the University and/or Departmental travel policy for required or approved travel. Students shall be covered by the University’s Business Travel Accident Insurance Policy.

For workspace and materials, the University shall provide access to workspace, desk space, facilities, equipment, materials, internet access, and other network services required to perform assigned duties, and if, with prior approval, a student is required to purchase materials, equipment, or services, the University shall reimburse the student in a timely manner.

Q: What issues are close to resolution?

A: Since bargaining began last February, seven issues have been agreed upon, but many others are still in active negotiation. In recent bargaining sessions, the parties have made progress on several other issues, including holidays and intellectual property. Ultimately, Columbia wants to reach an agreement as expeditiously as possible, and these negotiation sessions play a key role in working out a contract.