We, the undersigned current international graduate students and postdocs at Caltech, are writing to you today to encourage you to vote YES in the upcoming union election on January 31 and February 1 at Ramo Auditorium.

More than forty percent of graduate students and postdocs at Caltech are international, making us an indispensable part of the Caltech community and research workforce. At Caltech, we work on cutting edge scientific projects, making crucial contributions to Caltech’s success. On the other hand, we also face unique challenges due to our special immigration status. Think about the extra time and money we spend on visa related issues. Think about the financial burdens many of us bear as newcomers to the US, especially those who also have to support their dependents and family. Even when facing issues that concern everyone, like workplace harassment and discrimination or unjust requests for additional workloads, we respond with extreme caution to minimize the potential threats to our status at Caltech. 

These challenges are well-acknowledged. Caltech International Offices work hard to support each individual, but general solutions for all international scholars are still far from being adequate at Caltech, and the further support we advocate for is frequently beyond their scope. On the other hand, collective advocacy is much more powerful and effective in achieving protective and supportive policies at the institutional level. Through collective bargaining, unions at other universities have won specific provisions for international scholars, and provided a critical avenue for graduate students and postdocs to support international scholars through these unique challenges. 

For instance, according to their union contracts, graduate students at MIT are qualified for reimbursements of up to $1,200 on their visa-related costs; days-off for visa-related appointments are now guaranteed at UC; and postdocs at Mt Sinai have won “protected time” for visa renewal and up to $1,250 in reimbursements for visa-related expenses. On healthcare and dependent support, remission of dependent healthcare premiums is now included in the graduate and postdoc union contracts at UC, in addition to 8 weeks of fully-paid parental and medical leave; postdocs at Mt Sinai now have access to a $50k/year emergency fund to cover expenses related to childcare, housing, or other financial hardship. On harassment and discrimination, interim measures during investigation and grievance processes with guaranteed timelines are accessible to all union members at Mt Sinai, UC (grads and postdocs), MIT, Harvard, UW (grads and postdocs), and other institutions. 

We need the union, built by us graduate students and postdocs, because we will actively prioritize our own interests and demands. We appreciate the hard work of the ISP and ISS offices, and a union does not replace their essential campus services. However, too many grads and postdocs still fall through the cracks. A union can help grads and postdocs advocate for further support to ensure all our visa and immigration needs are met on time. Rather than waiting passively and accepting what the administration decides to offer, let us democratically bargain with Caltech through the collective power of our union. Since we make up a large proportion of the Caltech workforce, we will have a strong voice within this union to advocate for the specific concerns of international scholars.

By voting yes, we will join over 100,000 other academic workers as part of the United Auto Workers—the largest union of academic workers in the country. Other UAW unions have already won powerful protections and benefits for international scholars, and we are excited to join them in improving working conditions at Caltech and in academia as a whole. 

If we are to improve working conditions for international and domestic workers alike, it is essential that we join together to support unionization at Caltech. Only through winning this election can we win these demands and create a better Caltech for all.

Fill out this form to help us win! And for more information, check out our website for information about the rights of international researchers under unionization, why more Caltech grads and postdocs are voting yes, and answers to frequently asked questions.

In solidarity,

Nadia Suryawinata, G3, Biology, Indonesia 🇮🇩
Ruolin Deng, G5, Geology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Sam Ponnada, G4, Astronomy, India 🇮🇳
Elisabetta Benazzi, Postdoc, Chemistry, Italy 🇮🇹
Alejandro Stefan-Zavala, G4, Aerospace Engineering, Venezuela 🇻🇪
Cyrus Fiori, G3, Chemical Engineering, Canada 🇨🇦
Stella Ekaputri, Postdoc, Biology, Indonesia 🇮🇩
Delaney Dunne, G3, Astronomy, Canada 🇨🇦
Albert Wandui, G7, Physics, Kenya 🇰🇪
Himanshu Chaudhary, G4, Physics, India 🇮🇳
Matthew Langley, G6, Biology, Canada 🇨🇦
Sergei Kliavinek, G2, Material Science, Russia 🇷🇺
Livia Hecke Morais, Postdoc, Biology, Brazil 🇧🇷
Harish Ramachandran, G1, Physics, Canada 🇨🇦
Na Yeon Kim, Postdoc, Neuroscience, South Korea 🇰🇷
Zoya Vallari, Postdoc, Physics, India 🇮🇳
Adrian Beckert, Postdoc, Physics, Switzerland 🇨🇭
Yujie Fan, Postdoc, Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Jessica Spake, Postdoc, Planetary Science, United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Mattia Tagliavento, Postdoc, Geology, Italy 🇮🇹
Yutian Li, G5, Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Lambda Moses, Postdoc, Biology
Rohan Shenoy, G1, Physics, India 🇮🇳
Eliot Finch, Postdoc, Physics, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Nicolas Engelbert, Postdoc, EE, Belgium 🇧🇪 
Elliott Michel Philippe Gesteau, Math, France 🇫🇷
Yaozhong Shi, G4, Mechanical Engineering, China 🇨🇳
Marion Pang, G3, Biological Engineering, Singapore 🇸🇬
Varun Wadia, Postdoc, Neurobiology, India 🇮🇳
Ruth Moorman, G4, Environmental Science, Australia 🇦🇺
Sahangi Dassanayake, G5, Aerospace Engineering, Sri Lanka 🇱🇰 
Joud Mar’i, G3, Computational & Neural Systems, Jordan 🇯🇴
Matheus de Castro Fonseca, Postdoc, Biology, Brazil 🇧🇷
Yiting Cheng, Postdoc, Biology, Republic of China 🇹🇼
Kelly Yao, G5, Physics, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Pierre Walker, G3, Chemical Engineering, United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Altyn Rymbek, G5, Neurobiology, Kazakhstan 🇰🇿
Ethan Payne, G3, Physics, Australia 🇦🇺
Thomas Zacharias, G3, Electrical Engineering, India 🇮🇳 

Lucy Thomas, Postdoc, Physics, United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Nadine Soliman, G4, Astronomy, Egypt 🇪🇬
Alvin Li, G5, Physics, Hong Kong 🇭🇰
Nina Minh Tam Le, G3, Biophysics & Molecular Biology, Vietnam 🇻🇳
Cassie Zhang, G3, Biophysics & Molecular Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Abdullah Farooq, G6, Biology, Canada 🇨🇦
Ian Foo, G4, Applied Physics, Singapore 🇸🇬
Manxuan Zhou, G4, Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Masami Hazu, G5, Biology, Japan 🇯🇵
Olivia Xuan Wan, Postdoc, Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Ina Muggerud Sorensen, G5, Physics, Norway 🇳🇴
Dongze Sun, G4, Physics, China 🇨🇳
Linhao Ma, G5, Physics, China 🇨🇳
Ailene Chan, G3, Computational & Neural Systems, Hong Kong SAR 🇭🇰
Yuanze Ding, G2, Physics, China P.R 🇨🇳
Ranjani Murali, Postdoc, Geobiology, India 🇮🇳
Yujing Yang, G5, Biology, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Changhua Yu, G4, Bioengineering, China P.R. 🇨🇳
Honami Tanaka, G2, Neurobiology, Japan 🇯🇵
Krittanon Sirorattanakul, G6, Geophysics, Thailand 🇹🇭
Ren Marquez, G6, Geochemistry, The Philippines 🇵🇭 
Nandagopal Manoj, G3, Physics, India 🇮🇳
Tessa Rusch, Postdoc, Neuroscience, Germany 🇩🇪
Magdalena Mayr, Postdoc, Geobiology, Austria 🇦🇹
Rahuljeet Chadha, G3, Chemical Biology, India 🇮🇳 and Canada 🇨🇦 
Haakon Ludvig Langeland Ervik, G4, Environmental Science, Norway 🇳🇴
Harshda Saxena, G1, Astrophysics, India 🇮🇳
Soumyadeep Bhattacharrjee, G1, Astrophysics, India 🇮🇳
Sol Bin Yun, G1, Astrophysics, South Korea 🇰🇷
Yashvi Sharma, G5, Astrophysics, India 🇮🇳
Yashvardhan Tomar, G2, Astrophysics, India 🇮🇳