Columbia Graduate Students on Strike
“Graduate teaching assistants at Columbia University said yesterday that they would go on strike Monday morning and remain out until Columbia recognized their right to unionize, which could shut down hundreds of classes through the end of the school year.
“This is an indefinite strike; we’re not going to do anything until they recognize our union,” said Dermot Ryan, a fifth-year graduate student in English and comparative literature who teaches “Introduction to Contemporary Civilization,” one of Columbia’s core courses. “We will stay out as long as it takes.”
Graduate students represent a significant portion of the teaching force at Columbia. Not only do they run small discussion sessions of large lecture courses, but they also teach more than half of the core courses that all Columbia students must take, like “Contemporary Civilization,” “Literature and Humanities” and writing. … “
” … The graduate students voted on unionizing two years ago, but the votes were never counted because Columbia appealed the students’ right to unionize to the National Labor Relations Board. The board said last week that it was studying the case, along with similar appeals, including one by the State University of New York.
Some protesters said that they were happy in their teaching and research jobs, and that the threat of unionization had been instrumental in Columbia’s decision to raise its basic stipend to $17,000.
“When I came in, things weren’t bad,” said Stephen Twilley, a second-year graduate student in Italian. “But I realized that the stipend had been raised because of efforts to organize, so I have a debt to past organizers. This is our last best hope to move the university.” … “
“114th and Broadway”