‘We Recognize the Right to Work for a Union,’ Says Columbia University President at Strike Rally

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ABOUT 70 workers at Columbia University’s student-services center returned to work on Wednesday after going on strike this month to demand paid sick days and other protections.

Speaking from the picket line at the school’s Upper West Side campus, a group of the strikers stood up and cheered loudly.

Michael Reed, the director of administration at Columbia, an Ivy League school that also has campuses in Qatar and Tokyo, listened, along with the university’s top executives. The workers are part of a private, non-union company called Faubion.

“We recognize that you are members of a union, we recognize that you have the right to work for a union, and we respect you as a collective bargaining unit,” Mr. Reed said. “I acknowledge that they’re proud of being students and proud of being union members.”

The workers, whom the school fired back in an email Monday, have laid out proposals that include a $35.80 stipend for every day of nursing leave and in-state tuition and a wage of $14.92 an hour, compared with the school’s $17.65.

The strike has been quiet so far. Students at the school stayed home, and the school’s website did not mention the strike.

Mr. Reed could not immediately be reached for comment, but he had told the workers before they went on strike that they would be fired for striking. They have said their poor treatment is in retaliation for supporting the CWA-UAW, a teacher’s union.

Oubai Shahbandar, the national coordinator of the Faubion workers, said at a news conference that he was not opposed to better pay or paid sick days. But those were a “scab issue” that could only be resolved through negotiating with a union and the university’s officials.

“Faubion has abandoned them,” he said.

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