Union Glossary

Autoworkers Caravan A network of UAW members formed in 2008; a rank and file voice to defend the interests of autoworkers in the face of wholesale attacks against UAW members in the midst of the financial meltdown.

Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) A network of rank and file academic workers within the UAW, dating to 2009, fighting for transparency, democracy, active union member engagement, and militancy in fighting the boss. AWDU has active causes across the University of California system, NYU, and Columbia.

Bargaining Committee (BC)  • A group of ten GWC members elected to conduct contract negotiations. At present, there are no term limits and no recall process for BC members. There will be elections in September 2019.

bargaining unit  The group of workers represented by the union and covered by the contract.

business unionism  • A model of unionism that views the rank and file as consumers of a product, i.e. the contract, delivered by the union bureaucracy; an approach to contract negotiations that rejects transparency, valorizes compromise, and discourages strikes; an ideology that the employer and the union are “on the same side.”

Columbia Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (CAWDU)  • A group of GWC members who believe in fighting for a transformative contract, empowering our coworkers, developing diverse leaders, and holding UAW International representatives and our elected union leadership accountable; the GWC reform caucus.

contract • A binding agreement, in our case between GWC-UAW 2110 and Columbia University, that dictates the legally enforceable terms of our employment. GWC’s first contract has been under negotiation since February 25, 2019.

Framework Agreement A backroom deal between Columbia lawyers and the UAW Regional Director defining terms of collective bargaining for GWC and Columbia Postdoctoral Workers (CPW). The Framework was negotiated without the knowledge or input of GWC/CPW members and was put to a rushed online vote days after it was announced, over Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Framework, among other things, prohibits strike activity until 04/06/20.

Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC)  • Our labor union representing approximately 3600 undergraduate and graduate student academic workers (TAs, RAs, graders, preceptors). GWC is a part of UAW Local 2110.

jurisdiction • The GWC Bargaining Committee has two seats reserved for each of five Columbia jurisdictions: 1. GSAS Humanities & Social Sciences, 2. GSAS Natural Sciences, 3. SEAS, 4. CUMC, and 5. Professional Schools (School of the Arts, Business, Professional Studies, GSAPP, Journalism, Social Work, Law, etc.).

open bargaining  • An arrangement in which the contract bargaining process is kept transparent to the rank and file, such as by allowing members to attend bargaining sessions. GWC has open bargaining.

Organizing Committee  • A group of GWC members that meets weekly to discuss organizing conversations and experiences, talk shop, and plan events.   

Proskauer Rose • The law firm working with Columbia to bust our union. Proskauer Rose has also been hired by University of Chicago and Grinnell College to bust their student worker unions. Bernard Plum (‘Bernie’), the lead negotiator on Columbia’s bargaining committee, is a Proskauer lawyer. He’s paid over $1000/hour.

rank and file, the  • The workers who comprise a union, as opposed to the representatives of the union’s national or regional bureaucracy; the source of a union’s power.

strike • When workers withhold their labor in order to pressure the employer to meet their demands. A well-organized militant strike is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of a union.

two-tier / concessionary contract • A contract that provides lower pay, benefits, or protections than a prior contract, often done by creating a lower tier of pay and benefits for newer workers, allowing the boss to weaken the union over time as older workers leave. The UAW International has a pattern of accepting such contracts.

UAW International  • The central administration of the United Auto Workers, headquartered in Detroit. Regional administrations are geographically distributed. We are in Region 9A, headquartered in Farmington, CT. The UAW International is a classic business union.

UAW International Representative • Staff employed by the UAW International, responsible for directing and administering union drives and bargaining. The International Reps currently assigned to GWC are Ken Lang & Tiffany Yee-Vo.

UAW Local 2110  • The individual unions comprising the UAW are Locals. We are in Local 2110, an amalgamated Local (i.e., multiple bargaining units) representing dozens of workplaces around NYC, including at Columbia, Barnard, Teachers College, MoMA, ACLU, and BAM. Local 2110 has a solid history of militancy and effective strikes.