Huge Boost to Grad Worker Movement as NLRB Certifies Columbia Union

Labor News

Reprinted from The UAW website on December 18, 2017. It is unattributed.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld an overwhelming December 2016 vote in favor of unionization and certified Graduate Workers of Columbia-UAW (GWC-UAW) as the union for 3,000 research and teaching assistants who work at the Ivy League school. GWC-UAW leaders immediately requested that the administration fulfil its legal obligation to start good-faith negotiations for a contract, which would cover the largest-ever group of unionized RAs and TAs at a private university.

“After months of disingenuous delays by Columbia, we are excited to win certification of our union,” said Olga Brudastova, a PhD student and teaching assistant in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. “No more excuses. The Columbia administration needs to respect the law and start bargaining immediately.”

The Board rejected Columbia’s objections filed last December aimed at throwing out the election results, stating: “Here, the Employer has failed to carry its burden. The Employer’s evidence shows that the Region’s inconsistent handling of voter- identification procedures potentially affected just four ballots at most. The election covered a unit of over 4,000 eligible voters, in which the Petitioner won by a 979-vote margin. In these circumstances, we find no reasonable doubt as to the fairness and validity of the election.” …

UAW 12/18

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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