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Graduate Researchers And Postdocs at Caltech Vote Yes on Forming Union

Published on Friday, February 9, 2024 | 5:45 am

More than 2,000 Graduate Researchers and Postdoctoral Researchers at Caltech voted in favor of joining California Institute of Technology Graduate Researchers and Postdocs United-United Auto Workers, according to vote totals tabulated on Wednesday and reported by the union.

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work that led to this overwhelming ‘yes’ vote. We love our research, but too many of us have been made to withstand abuse in the name of passion. Now, we finally have the ability to determine our working conditions, which will improve our research and our lives,” said Nadia Suryawinata, an international graduate student.

The United Auto Workers represents over 100,000 academic workers at more than 40 universities and colleges nationwide, including Columbia University, Harvard, the University of Southern California, and the University of California.

In total, the margin of victory was 76.5%, or (799-246) among graduate students. Postdoctoral Researchers voted 82.8% in favor of forming a union, or 240-50, according to the union.

This historic election marks the first time graduate employees and postdoctoral scholars have voted simultaneously to unionize at the California Institute of Technology.

The two groups make critical contributions to teaching and research at Caltech, but say that many lack secure rights and protections in the workplace, and struggle with low compensation, inadequate health care, and that there is limited or non-existent support for academic parents.

“The United Auto Workers is proud to welcome Graduate Researchers and Postdoctoral Researchers at the California Institute of Technology to our union, as they join thousands of other academic workers across the country who are ready to Stand Up for economic and social justice,” said United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain. “It’s time to end the low pay, job insecurity, harassment, and discrimination, that has run rampant in higher education. These workers are leading the way by winning their union.”

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