We are graduate students and postdocs from all six divisions. We power Caltech’s research endeavors, committed to scientific curiosity, diligent research, and close collaboration. We’re voting “yes” on January 31st and February 1st to form our union, CGPU-UAW, so that postdocs and grads have a unified voice in our working conditions. While our priorities for improvements at Caltech are varied—including higher wages, affordable childcare, and enforceable protections from abusive conduct—we are united by the belief that by forming a union, we can perform better research and build a more inclusive environment.

At universities across the US, academic unions have made tremendous progress in raising standards in higher-education, from wages and benefits to job security and protections from abuse. Without a union at Caltech, we have no power to negotiate with the administration. Many of us were here when the administration decided to cut grad healthcare benefits during the pandemic, and have struggled with rising rent and childcare costs. Equally alarming is the lack of confidence in Caltech’s response to cases of harassment, discrimination, and other abusive conduct: less than 10% of grad and postdoc respondents to the CGPU workplace survey believe the institution provides accountability in such cases. When significant progress is made at Caltech, the driving force is the collective action of grads and postdocs—like petitions to push back against rising healthcare costs and labs uniting to protect peers who face mistreatment. In fact, grads and postdocs received our largest raises in over a decade only after we initiated the CGPU-UAW campaign.

A vote to form CGPU-UAW is a vote for a democratic voice in our working conditions. This means that all grads and postdocs will determine together what we try to achieve through negotiations with Caltech, vote on who will be a part of our bargaining teams, and vote on whether or not to ratify the proposed union contract. This process has a demonstrated record of success in grad, postdoc, and faculty unions across academia. In recent years, grad students and postdocs have ratified union contracts with unprecedented raises; improvements to healthcare, childcare, and disability accommodations; enforceable protections against harassment, abuse, and discrimination; and protections for international researchers. We’re also joining over 100,000 graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in UAW, including grads at UCUWUSCColumbiaand Harvard, and postdocs at the UCsUWColumbiaMount Sinai, LBNL, and the NIH

We believe unionization benefits not only graduate students and postdocs, but all of Caltech and science as a whole. Researchers who don’t need to worry about affording rent or childcare, accessing healthcare, or being harassed can more effectively expand the boundaries of knowledge and teach the next generation. In the words of a recent Caltech alumnus, “By its nature, a commitment to a union is a commitment to helping those around you and to receiving help from them. It is a hopeful act.”. We will be voting “yes” on January 31st and February 1st to form CGPU-UAW, and encourage everyone to join us.

Questions? Want to discuss the specifics of CGPU-UAW? Please don’t hesitate to reach out at organize@cgpu.org.