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Representatives Nadler, Meng, and Espaillat Lead Letter Urging Columbia University and Student Workers to Ensure Good Faith Bargaining During Negotiations

Washington, D.C. - Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Grace Meng (NY-06), and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) sent a letter to Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger encouraging the university to strengthen its efforts in good faith bargaining with student workers. The letter also emphasizes the importance of the labor negotiations to student workers and the community.

“There are over 3,000 graduate student-workers at the institution that have been a driving force behind the teaching and research missions of Columbia,” wrote the Members. “They have educated thousands of students annually and continue to perform cutting-edge research and development work that brings roughly $1 billion in federal grant funding to the University every year.”

“We understand that the Union has filed unfair labor practices charges and that workers are exercising all of their rights to achieve a fair contract,” they continued. “While contract negotiations can be challenging, we fully support good faith bargaining from both principles to reach a fair agreement.”

This letter comes as nearly 3,000 Columbia graduate and undergraduate students have been exercising their right to achieve a fair contract and equitable workers’ rights with the university.

In addition to Representatives Nadler, Meng, and Espaillat, the letter was signed by Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (NY-25), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14).

Full copy of the letter to Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger is available here and below:

Lee C. Bollinger

President

Columbia University

Dear President Bollinger,

As elected leaders from the greater New York City area, we are writing regarding the current impasse in labor negotiations between Columbia University and the Student Workers of Columbia-UAW. We want to reinforce the importance of negotiations to the employees and the community. We encourage Columbia University to strengthen its efforts in good faith bargaining. As we work to recover from a global pandemic, it is vital that these lengthy negotiations conclude and yield a fair agreement.

There are over 3,000 graduate student-workers at the institution that have been a driving force behind the teaching and research missions of Columbia. They have educated thousands of students annually and continue to perform cutting-edge research and development work that brings roughly $1 billion in federal grant funding to the University every year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, graduate student workers were also a significant source of stability for the institution, transitioning swiftly to online classes and continuing to work in research facilities to help the university weather the crisis.

We understand that the Union has filed unfair labor practices charges and that workers are exercising all of their rights to achieve a fair contract. While contract negotiations can be challenging, we fully support good faith bargaining from both principles to reach a fair agreement. 

We urge you to recommit to negotiations in order to work out a fair deal.
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