March 4th, 2015
“I’m Anna. I’m in the history department. I want a union because I want to be able to do this work I love and have a safety net.”
“I’m Bradley. I’m from Slavic languages. I support a union because dependent health care is outrageously expensive.”
On a frigid February afternoon, 60 Columbia University graduate students from anthropology to zoology crowded into a meeting room to brainstorm how to persuade Columbia to recognize and bargain with the labor union they are struggling to form.
They began the meeting by asking the students to introduce themselves and explain why they wanted a union. At times it sounded like group therapy to air complaints — about callous faculty advisers, inadequate maternity leave and other issues — but it was far more strategy session and pep rally.