Oppose the UAW sellout of the Columbia graduate student strike! | #students | #parents

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is conspiring with Columbia University (CU) to shut down the strike of over 3,000 graduate student workers at the university. The union at Columbia University, the Graduate Workers of Columbia University (GWC), has been affiliated with the UAW for two years.

The graduate students have been fighting for a contract ever since the union was established. Their demands include improved wages and health care, expanded family and child care benefits and other demands against what they are calling “COVID austerity measures.”

Columbia strikers picketing

The UAW has done everything possible to isolate the strike, including preventing the linking up of the strike at Columbia with graduate students at New York University (NYU), who are a part of the same amalgamated union, and are voting on strike authorization this week. The IYSSE has warned that the UAW is preparing to shut down this strike by this weekend, before the NYU strike authorization vote is concluded. These warnings have been confirmed.

At a meeting of the GWC caucus on Thursday afternoon, which included the members of the bargaining committee (BC) and members of the rank-and-file, the bargaining committee revealed that they would be making further concessions to the university. An audio clip, anonymously sent to the WSWS, makes clear that the UAW, in collaboration with members of the bargaining committee, is planning to sell out the strike as quickly as possible. The agreement would leave students with a de facto pay cut in the first year, taking into account inflation.

It was only because of fierce opposition to the proposal from graduate students that the plans of the union to end the strike with a sell-out deal were thwarted.

Graduated students fiercely opposed the proposed concessions: “You say that you aren’t going to listen to COVID austerity,” one student declared, “why are you listening to the university more than you are listening to the unit right now?” Another student said, “We are the ones suffering from COVID austerity. We are not saying [to the bargaining committee] please don’t do this. We demand this. You represent us.” Another: “Are you tyrants? Who are you accountable to? If your unit is telling you no, who else are you taking instructions from?”

As things became more and more heated, a member of the bargaining committee moved to end the meeting without answering any of the questions posed: “We don’t know what we are doing, yet. We will have to take a caucus. I’m sorry we will have to end this meeting.” She cynically added, “Your voices have been heard and umm we will get back to you.”

During the meeting, rank-and-file student workers and sections of the BC initiated a petition calling on the BC “to commit to not presenting new proposals.”

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