The Strike Weapon: Can It Still Work

The Strike Weapon: Can It Still Work

On February 22, 1996, two hundred Barnard College clerical workers, members of UAW Local 2110, walked off their jobs, protesting the college’s insistence that they pay more for health insurance and switch health plans. Barnard, and Columbia University with which it is affiliated, have seen more than their share of strikes over the years, but most have been one- or two-day affairs. This time, events did not follow the old script. With the Barnard administration displaying a newfound toughness, for two weeks the chants of picketers disrupted business, professors held classes off campus, and sympathetic students demonstrated. On March 6, the strikers returned to work in “a gesture of good faith,” but after negotiations stalled they resumed their walkout. As the strike dragged on through the spring and summer, some forty strikers drifted back to work. When school reopened in the fall, no professors relocated their classes and most students ignored the struggle. Finally, in mid-September, Barnard and its union agreed on a new contract, ending a walkout that had lasted seven months.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels