We’re Voting Yes for a Stronger Caltech!
When: January 31 and February 1 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Where: Ramo Auditorium Lobby
How: In person, except for eligible mail-voters assigned to work outside the LA area
Voting “yes” to form a union will allow us, as Caltech Postdocs and Graduate Researchers, to collectively bargain with the Caltech administration for the first time. With a union:
- The Caltech administration will have a legal obligation to negotiate with elected grads and postdocs over pay, benefits, and workplace protections
- Any agreements on improvements or maintaining current benefits will be part of an enforceable contract
- Every Postdoc and Grad will be able to participate in the bargaining process through surveys, town halls, bargaining updates, and more.
- Every Postdoc and Grad will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to ratify any proposed contract before it goes into effect
Through thousands of conversations, Postdocs and Grads have expressed struggles with low wages, high healthcare costs, expensive childcare, and a lack of enforceable protections from harassment, discrimination, and abusive conduct. These challenges add to the stress experienced by graduate employees and postdocs, and exacerbate inequities in academic research.
Right now, the Caltech administration unilaterally decides if, when, and how to address challenges faced by Postdocs and Grads. With collective bargaining, we can meet at the bargaining table as equals. With strong participation and support from the entire Postdoc and Grad community, we can bargain union contracts that better meets our needs.
CGPU Articles and Information:
“Forming a union is the best way for Caltech’s graduate students to protect the improvements granted by the administration only after the unionization effort surfaced; to fight for stipends and benefits that keep pace with inflation and the rising cost of living; and to address workplace harassment and abuse.”
“Researchers who don’t need to worry about affording rent, accessing healthcare, or being harassed can more effectively expand the boundaries of knowledge and teach the next generation. It is our firm conviction that unionization is in the best interests not only of graduate students and postdocs, but of Caltech and science as a whole.”
“We have done our homework and made the decision that forming a union is necessary to ensure that we and future scholars at Caltech are best positioned to make discoveries that can positively change our world.”
Click to read the op-ed in Caltech Letters.
“But looking back at the hundreds of 12-hour days she spent pursuing her passion, Murali wonders whether she should have had to toil so long while earning so little. She wants the next generation to have a less arduous path.”
Click to read the article in Capital & Main.
Joining UAW and Unions in Higher Education
In 2022, after seeing the success of unionization efforts in the UC system, a group of Grads and Postdocs reached out to UAW for help forming a union here at Caltech. Being part of a larger union, along with over 100,000 other academic employees, provides Grads and Postdocs with the resources and expertise necessary to negotiate with major research universities. As part of UAW, Caltech Grads and Postdocs elect their own local union leadership and bargaining team and vote on their own union contract.
Over 100,000 academic employees across the US have already chosen to join UAW. This includes Postdocs in the UC system, at University of Washington, Columbia University, and Mt. Sinai as well as graduate employees at UC, Columbia, Harvard, UW, and many more. Recently, Research Scientists and Engineers at UW voted 85% in favor of unionizing with UAW, NIH Fellows voted 98% in favor of unionizing with UAW, and Cornell Medical School Postdocs voted 99% in favor of unionizing with UAW. Both Mt. Sinai Postdocs and USC grad employees just voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying their first union contracts (more on the Mt. Sinai agreement here and USC agreement here). By uniting together, academic employees are driving up standards in higher education and building a powerful voice for grad workers, postdocs, research scientists, and non-tenure track faculty.
People’s Policy Project: Graduate Worker Unions Win Major Gains and Strengthen the Labor Movement
Forbes: As Grad Student Unionizing Effort Grows, Universities Raise Stipends, Benefits
Los Angeles Times: UC strike energizes unprecedented national surge of union organizing by academic workers
Nature: NIH researchers vote to form a union for the first time
Los Angeles Times: USC and graduate students union reach tentative pact with big pay boosts, bias protections
Seattle Times: UW researchers, engineers, postdocs reach tentative agreements
Los Angeles Times: UC graduate student workers ratify labor agreement, end historic strike with big wage gains
Chemistry World: The first ever postdoc union at a private US university has been formed
The Chief: Mount Sinai postdocs ratify first-ever contract
Inside Higher Ed: At Long Last: A Contract for Columbia Student Workers
The Harvard Crimson: GSAS Raises Ph.D. Stipends to $50,000, Answering Grad Union Call for Living Wage
Boston Globe: Northeastern University graduate students win union election
Daily UW: UAW 4121 stands up against new Trump ruling that limits the visas of international students and scholars
Daily UW: New Title IX regulations draw opposition from unions
Medium: UC International Postdoc Fights Back Against Pregnancy Discrimination, and Wins
NBC News: After protests, UC San Diego agrees not to fire Chinese postdoc who raised concerns (edited)
Columbia Student Worker Contract Summary, and Full Contract