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Columbia Grad Students Join the United Auto Workers Union

Columbia Grad Students Join the United Auto Workers Union

“This marks a major victory for the entire Columbia community.”

Grad students at Columbia have been fighting for the right to unionize for some time. Now they’ve got it and they joined the United Auto Workers union. Doesn’t that sound a little strange?

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Columbia University Grad Students Join UAW After Battle for Right to Unionize

Columbia University graduate students have overwhelmingly voted to join the United Auto Workers union, becoming the first Ivy League school to do so and culminating a years’ long effort to gain the right to unionize.

“Today, 3,500 RAs and TAs like me have won a voice to make sure Columbia University is the best place possible to learn and work,” said Addison Godel, a teaching assistant in the Architecture School at Columbia University, in a statement. “This marks a major victory for the entire Columbia community.”

Students voted 1,602 to 623 to unionize, according to a tally posted online by the National Labor Relations Board on Friday.

The vote was made possible by the NLRB’s August ruling that private universities are required to treat graduate student teaching assistants and researchers as employees. Other cases are pending at Harvard, Yale and Duke.

Graduate student unions are common at public institutions and adjunct professors have been joining unions across the country at an increasing clip for several years. The August NLRB ruling opened the door to the approximately 535,000 graduate students now enrolled at private colleges and universities.


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No other union would have them?

The university folks probably thought that they could outsmart the UAW management. And I’m sure the UAW guys are just laughing their heads off – all the way to the bank.

The teamsters wouldn’t take them because they wanted to meet Jimmy Hoffa first. Duh!

Wait until they find out that they are paying the union for just about nothing — particularly when the school decides that free tuition in exchange for their “labor” is being removed in favor of a “fair wage”. “Yes, we will pay you $25 an hour for your 20 hours of work per week and you can now pay us regular tuition, minus whatever need-based financial aid you can muster. Merit scholarships? Sorry, being a TA or RA is based on merit. We’re paying you based on merit.” The union will love this group… almost none of them will be in the union more that four years and they will all be paying dues. That turnover also means there will be no one in the union who has any sense of history or understands the collective agreements that get made. Other than having to give lip service to a bunch of whiny kids, it’s win-win for the union.