News | Administration

Latest Faculty House negotiations stalled

  • MAKE SOME NOISE | Protesters with the Student-Worker Solidarity group protested the administration Wednesday morning in front of Faculty House, where a new round of negotiations between the administration and workers stalled.

Another round of contract negotiations between administrators and Faculty House employees ended in a standstill Wednesday.

The negotiations were the latest in a series of meetings over the past 10 months, which so far have proved unfruitful. Employees say they have had little to no wage increases for more than eight years, are withheld a 22 percent gratuity, and receive only meager stipends as part of their grievances.

In a protest in advance of the negotiating session Wednesday, about 20 members of the Student-Worker Solidarity group, which has advocated for better benefits for campus workers, marched and waved posters outside of Faculty House. Chanting “Sheila Garvey, rich and rude!” and “Sheila Garvey, pay your workers!”, referring to the administrator in charge of labor relations, demonstrators lined up to cheer on workers entering negotiations.

George Joseph, CC ’16 and a SWS member, said that “a lot of them came and hugged and thanked us—kissed us.”

According to Joseph and Jane Brennan, CC ’14, Garvey tried to use the back door of SIPA to enter Faculty House upon seeing the protesters.

For the second time, student activists were still not allowed in the negotiating room during the talks. Earlier this month, SWS delivered a petition to Jeff Scott, executive vice president for Student and Administrative services, requesting to be allowed into Wednesday’s meeting after two students were forbidden from sitting in on the December negotiations—but received no response. Members ended up chasing Scott when they brought the petition to his office.

After discussing in private the presence of third parties at Wednesday’s meeting, administrators asked a Spectator reporter, and eventually the SWS students, to leave.

“We can’t have disinterested outside observers,” Garvey said. “We’ve never done it. It’s not appropriate ... We can’t have Spectator ... these are private discussions.”

After about 20 minutes, when administrators left the room, members of SWS said that the administrators had not negotiated in good faith. Garvey “came in ... and refused to negotiate,” Joseph said.

“It was really disrespectful,” he said. “We just wanted to make the process fair.”

The protest was only one event in a week of action SWS has planned, which includes “teach-ins” with employees educating students about their working conditions.

Faculty House workers said they were thankful for student involvement in their cause.

“No students, no meeting,” said Osmond Cousins, a sous-chef for Faculty House for more than 18 years, before negotiations began. “We’re not taking no crap ... This is not a bodega. This is Columbia University.”

“They’re scared of us,” said Lindsey Dayton, GSAS. “We’ve got people running out of their own offices.”

An earlier version of this article stated that SWS activists were, in fact, present for the negotiations. Spectator regrets the error.

news@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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Anonymous posted on

I like the poster the lady on the right has with the Columbia mascot chasing after some kid waving his hands in the air.

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Anonymous posted on

oh wow

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Anonymous posted on

This is absurd. Are you going to demand to sit in on tenure reviews of professors next?

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Anonymous posted on

I would just fire them all. And hire new, non-union workers.

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Anonymous posted on

Although Columbia is run by bankers and seeks to train the next generation of bankers and politicians, many graduates will end up unemployed or underemployed. Many others will end up in middle management in business or be teachers or other professionals. All will find that they are disposable, can be laid off in a heartbeat, just like a janitor. They will find they can lose their home or pension, just like cafeteria worker. Only if they are in unions will they have some power to fight back, and only if unions support each other across various job categories do they really have power. That is why it is great to see that these students understand their common interests with campus workers, and that their position in this society will not be so different in the long run. Keep up the good fight!

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Anonymous posted on

If graduates end up unemployed or underemployed, that's because they made poor choices while at Columbia to study post-modern post-colonial deconstructionist whining studies, and not something that would be applicable in this economy.

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