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Caltech Graduate, Postdoc Workers File for Union Election, Joining National Academic Labor Movement

Published on Friday, December 1, 2023 | 11:35 am

Over 2,000 Graduate Workers and Postdoctoral Scholars at Caltech filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday, according to a statement from a group called Caltech Grad Students and Postdocs United.

In the statement, the group, which said it has supermajority support, is seeking recognition as the new bargaining unit CGPU-UAW (Caltech Grad Students and Postdocs United-United Auto Workers). This move would align them with tens of thousands of their peers nationwide who have already formed academic worker unions with UAW.

“Today is historic,” said Natasha Reich, identified as a Graduate Worker in Chemistry, was quoted as saying. “We’re excited to be joining a national movement of academic workers forming unions across the country. Postdocs and Graduate Workers power Caltech’s education and research mission, but we feel the university has not done enough to address the exploding costs of living, or implemented real solutions to the discrimination and bullying we regularly encounter.”

The group said it hopes that Caltech will respect their choice and recognize their union, allowing them to begin bargaining for improved working conditions.

In a show of solidarity, a delegation of workers were pictured delivering letters signed by hundreds of Graduate Workers and Postdoctoral Scholars to the Provost’s office. These letters requested a free and fair process to verify majority support for the union.

This move comes amidst a wave of academic labor activity in Southern California. Over 3,000 workers at USC recently secured their first contract, and USC Adjuncts have held actions.

Mike Miller, Director of UAW Region 6, welcomed the Caltech Graduate Student Workers and Postdocs into the UAW family in a statement.

“The UAW welcomes Graduate Student Workers and Postdocs at Caltech into the UAW family. Their contributions are vital to the research which makes Caltech a world-class institution, and their UAW siblings everywhere stand with them in their fight for better wages and working conditions,” said Mike Miller, Director of UAW Region 6.

UAW currently represents 80,000 higher education workers, with nearly 20,000 more on their way to winning their first contracts. In recent years, unions have been formed at several universities, including the University of California, the University of Southern California, Columbia, Northeastern University, and the University of Washington. 

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