Student Workers of Columbia University on Strike for Second Time in 2021
On Wednesday, Columbia University student workers including undergraduate and graduate teaching and research assistants went on strike, in what constitutes the second-largest such action happening in the United States right now, second only to the strike still being fought by their UAW siblings at John Deere.
The workers, members of UAW Local 2110, say that Columbia has committed several unfair labor practices, including implementing a wage freeze in retaliation for rejecting an earlier Tentative Agreement and unilaterally modifying stipend disbursement schedules. Columbia forced their student-workers into additional financial insecurity in an attempt to ward off the strike. Graduate student workers at Columbia are paid $5,500 to $18,000 below an annual living wage in NYC. Yet Columbia raised enough money in the past 5 Giving Days alone, a 5-day work week, to fund the entire cost of the union's proposal to provide workers with a living wage and adequate healthcare for the next three years. What's more, Columbia's endowment earned 32.3 percent returns for the fiscal year of 2021, eclipsing both the 5.5 percent returns realized in fiscal year 2020 and the 9.9 percent 10-year returns—resulting in a total endowment value of $14.35 billion.
The union's largest outstanding demands include arbitration for discrimination and harassment claims; higher compensation levels; and improved healthcare covering vision and dental care.
Read more in New York Magazine, Business Insider, Patch, and the Columbia Spectator, and donate to the Hardship Fund for Student Workers here. And don't forget to follow these workers and their fight on Twitter. #CUonStrike