Our friends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have asked for AAUP–Penn’s support in their rally for a fair contract. Philly’s excellent art museum couldn’t run without these excellent museum workers, but many of them can’t afford the museum’s health insurance, earn 30-60% below median pay for their jobs, and haven’t had a raise in years despite rapid inflation and unstable working conditions. Please come out with us to the PMA this Friday, April 1 at 5pm to stand with them!

A group of us will be there in our new AAUP t-shirts, and we’re asking everyone who can to join us and help show our chapter’s solidarity. We will meet on the west side of the museum facing the Waterworks and Boat House Row. Hope to see you there!

P.S. If you can’t make it, you can still help out by emailing the PMA’s Board of Trustees here; it’s very easy.

Image
Tagged with: , , , ,

It is uplifting to see Student Workers of Columbia signing their SWC-UAW cards this week after voting by a supermajority of 97.6% on January 28th to ratify their 1/7 tentative agreement with Columbia—the union’s first contract with the University. This victory is as hard-won as it gets, after nearly ten weeks on the picket line. SWC’s significant contract wins are worth celebrating in detail. They include retroactive compensation raises of 6% for PhD students, bringing 12-month appointment minimums up to $43.1k for AY21/22 and $44.4k for AY22/23 and 9-month appointment minimums to $32.3k (AY21/22) and $33.3k (AY22/23); pay parity (bringing PhD students’ pay in the School of Social Work and School of Public Health up to the level of pay in other divisions); dental care covering 75% of premiums for PhD students and their dependents; child care subsidy increases of $4,500 per child for AY21/22 and $5,000 per child for AY22/23; and access to neutral arbitration in cases of discrimination and harassment.

These victories not only improve the quality of life for Columbia’s student workers but also raise the bar for other universities. The indirect effects of the Columbia strike are already evident in Princeton University’s recent announcement of a very significant (25%) stipend increase that brings fellowship funding for doctoral students up to $40,000 on average. That raise is unquestionably a win for Princeton grad students. Meanwhile, compensation alone (important as it is) does not remedy power imbalances and inadequate labor protections that graduate students, instructors, and researchers face. This of course includes a widespread lack of real recourse in cases of harrassment, as we have also seen just this week in the appalling details of the lawsuit against Harvard for its longstanding indifference to multiple sexual harrassment complaints. These issues are systematic, and they extend to our own campus as well. 

As a chapter of the American Association of University Professors, AAUP–Penn strongly supports the principle of workplace democracy in higher education and the rights of all workers to organize and to bargain collectively for fair terms of employment. These rights are protected by federal law and have been upheld by the NLRB in their application to grad workers. The need for such organizing is great particularly for those whose positions make them vulnerable, including student workers, contingent faculty, and contract staff. With all of these concerns immediately in view, we stand in solidarity—as ever—with graduate students’ concerted actions to secure better working conditions, fair pay and benefits, and protection from harassment and disrimination on all university campuses, including here at Penn.

Tagged with: , , , ,

UPDATE (12/4): Compounding their previous withholding of wages and stipends, Columbia University’s HR Department sent an email on December 2nd to striking student workers in SWC threatening to withhold their teaching and research appointments or replace them permanently if they do not break the strike by December 10th. AAUPPenn stands in solidarity with Columbia’s student workers against this shameful (and likely illegal) threat of retaliation by the Columbia administration, and we support the 3,000+ SWC members holding the line into the sixth week of their strike—the largest strike in the U.S. at this time.

We are heartened to see colleagues at Columbia responding to the University’s threat by organizing a faculty-led walkout and rally on Monday, December 6th at 12:30pm at the Sundial (see below), and we continue to urge faculty to join the picket line and take a stand against these retaliatory tactics.

Since student workers already struggled to pay rent on earnings from Columbia that are well below the living wage in New York City (the lowest grad stipend, adjusted for cost of living, of 10 of Columbia’s peer institutions), and those on strike are facing withheld wages and threats to their livelihoods, we urge all colleagues who can afford it to contribute to SWC’s Hardship Fund.

* * *

ADDITIONAL UPDATE (12/7): In response to Columbia’s retaliatory threat (in violation of the National Labor Relations Act; see 29 USC §163) against student workers engaged in protected concerted labor action, SWC members are asking all supporters (including those at other institutions) to sign this letter to save Columbia teachers’ and researchers’ jobs. We encourage our colleagues at Penn and everywhere to sign and everyone in the area to join the picket line and support student workers’ strike for a fair contract.

Image
Tagged with: , , , ,

Lecturers across University of California campuses in UC-AFT achieved signifiant contract wins today and were able to avert a multi-campus strike that was set to begin November 17th. These contingent faculty members, who teach approximately 1/3 of all undergraduate courses in the UC system, had been stuck in contract negotiations since April 2019. They have now reached a resolution to two of the unfair labor practices by UC leadership that prompted UC-AFT’s strike authorization vote, and they have won multi-year contracts for all UC lecturers after the first year of teaching, rehiring rights, 20% raises over the next four years, and a $1500 signing bonus. Congratulations and solidarity!


Tagged with: , , , ,

Student Workers of Columbia, a union representing over 3,000 graduate and undergraduate student workers in UAW Local 2110, goes on strike starting November 3, 2021. AAUP–Penn stands in solidarity with SWC as they demand a fair contract that includes a living wage, better healthcare, childcare, union recognition for all student workers, and grievance and neutral arbitration for sexual harassment and discrimination.

As ever, we urge colleagues at Columbia not to cross the picket line and to cancel classes where possible. Allies in the area can walk the picket line with SWC from 10am-2pm this Wed.–Fri. Those wishing to offer solidarity from elsewhere can support striking student workers by contributing to their Hardship Fund.

Tagged with: , , ,