The Maine Labor Relations Board (MLRB) has certified the University of Maine Graduate Workers Union-UAW (UMGWU-UAW), following verification by an independent arbitrator that a majority of graduate workers have signed cards supporting the formation of their union. Through a process called majority sign-up, the university agreed to recognize the union should the arbitrator verify that a majority signed cards. The new unit will represent the 1,000 graduate workers across all campuses of the University of Maine System who make up a large percentage of the overall teaching and research workforce.
“Today, after years of discussion and months of organizing, we are thrilled to announce that we have won our union,” said Remi Geohegan, a second year PhD student and Teaching Assistant in the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering at UMaine. “The University of Maine administration did the right thing by agreeing to recognize our union through a majority sign-on process, and the majority has spoken. Based on the strong support that exists across campus, and among faculty, legislators and community leaders, we are excited about the very real prospect of beginning negotiations for a strong first contract.”
“Our work powers the educational and research mission of the University and was instrumental in UMaine receiving the status of an R1 rated research university. In short, UMaine works because we do,” said Em Sowles, a fourth year PhD candidate and Research Assistant in the Physics department. “But for too long, we have struggled with low and inconsistent pay, substandard health benefits and the need for a voice at work. Today we are proud to have formally secured a seat at the table, so we can begin to improve our working lives through legally enforceable contracts.”
Santa Monica, CA – Graduate student researchers at the Pardee Rand Graduate School (PRGS) have voted to form their union, PRGS Organizes-United Auto Workers (PRGSO-UAW). The vote, which was tallied today by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), was 51 to 26 — 66% of the 121 Graduate Student Researchers in the unit voted in favor of unionization.
“We are excited that our graduate worker community was able to come together to win this election,” said Tara Blagg, a 4th-year Graduate Student Researcher. “We are looking forward to bargaining with our employer to improve working conditions and create a more equitable environment for us to contribute to RAND.”
PRGS is a graduate program embedded within the RAND Corporation, a leading think tank and government contractor. Graduate student workers at PRGS are staffed on RAND Corporation research projects, which include social welfare, healthcare, education, and military research among other policy areas.
This vote to unionize is part of a wave of votes to unionize graduate student workers and think tank researchers across the U.S. In 2021, The Brookings Institution and The Urban Institute voluntarily recognized unions formed by think tank researchers with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). Since 2021, student workers at the University of California, the University of Southern California (USC), the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Western Washington all unionized with the UAW.
“Building a union with my coworkers has been an empowering way to put our policy studies into action,” said Alejandra Lopez, a 2nd-year Graduate Student Researcher. “I’m excited for the opportunity to swiftly begin negotiations with RAND to make our workplace conducive to the highest quality research.”
PRGS Organizes-UAW believes that this unionization effort will help strengthen RAND’s institutional commitment to equity, equality and democracy, organizational values that underpinned the RAND Corporation’s long and influential history of policy research.
“We are thrilled to welcome RAND’s Graduate Student Workers to the UAW family,” said Mike Miller, Director of UAW Region 6. “The diligence and commitment these workers showed in forming their union is celebrated across the labor movement, from aerospace workers to researchers raising the standards in higher education. We are looking forward to standing behind them as they bargain their first contract.”
The employees at President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington D.C. have voted to join the UAW. They are the first Washington D.C. museum staff to join the UAW.
President Lincoln’s Cottage is a historic site and museum in Washington, D.C., where Abraham Lincoln lived for more than a quarter of his presidency and developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Opened to the public in 2008, it brings President Lincoln’s nation-changing story to life through innovative guided tours, engaging exhibits, and interactive programs. Lincoln’s experiences at the Cottage provided him and those he influenced with new and diverse perspectives on issues of freedom, justice, and humility, and he made some of his most critical decisions there. President Lincoln’s Cottage operates today as a home for brave ideas and works to preserve this place to connect people to the true spirit of the Lincolns, build empathy, and inspire them to act upon their own ideas for social justice.
“I’m thrilled about our unanimous election results because I think collective bargaining will help us live up to the principles we share with the public every day,” states organizing committee member, Joan Cummins. “Our museum is a historical site of labor justice and we’re ready to walk the walk!”
As the Program Coordinator at President Lincoln’s Cottage, Joan works on nearly every public-facing program of the museum, especially those intended for students and teachers. She developed and implemented revised school programming both onsite and virtually, and works closely with the Students Opposing Slavery Summit, which provides young people the tools they need to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. She also produces, edits, and co-hosts the Cottage’s podcast Q & Abe.
Member John Nembhard adds: “I’m the Senior Store Associate. I’m in charge of running the museum gift shop. It feels like when Obama won the election. All I can think now is “Yes We Can”. The feeling of having a voice means so much to me.”
Museum Program Associate Josie Barcley states: “I provide historical interpretation of the cottage’s stories, themes, and exhibits and lead education programs to students, teachers, and other members of the public. I am extremely pleased with the results and am looking forward to making the future of the cottage brighter.”
“We are very proud to celebrate a victory for our new UAW members at President Lincoln’s Cottage and a victory for organized labor,” states Region 8 Director Tim Smith. “History was made today; President Lincoln’s Cottage is the first UAW represented museum in Washington D.C. Assistant Director George Palmer and I are looking forward to meeting our new members to congratulate them on this historic win.”
United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain addressed UAW workers about concerns facing auto workers and battery workers at Ultium Cells in Lordstown.
Fain said that some of the UAW workers were struggling to get by, and stated that the big 3 automakers, GM, Ford, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Fiat) made more than $36 million nearly profit last year he said during a live stream on Facebook from Detriot, Michigan Friday.
PLYMOUTH, MI — Nearly 200 workers at Webasto Roof Systems have voted to join UAW Local 3000, in the latest organizing victory for the union.
The workers, who make convertible tops for the Mustang, Jeep, Bronco, and Corvette, launched their organizing drive in November, and faced an intense anti-union campaign from management.
“We’re doing this for our coworkers,” said Sheron Johnson, a production worker at Webasto. “People have been mistreated, not getting paid, having their schedules changed with no notice. We want to leave this place better for the next generation.”
Gustavo Vasquez has worked at Webasto for 17 years. “We used to have our voices heard at Webasto, that’s all we want,” Vasquez said. “To be treated as an asset to the company and not just a number.”
“These brave workers stuck together in the face of fierce opposition from the company,” said UAW Local 3000 President Steve Gonzales. “As they move from this organizing victory to the fight for a first contract, we’ve got their back 100 percent.”
“Over and over, we’re seeing workers across the auto supply chain come together in a common cause for justice on the job,” said UAW Region 1A Director Laura Dickerson. “Congratulations to our newest members at Webasto, and welcome to the UAW Region 1A family!”
This past month has been a very busy one for our union, and I’m excited to share what we’ve been working on. This week, I spoke directly to the membership about our progress, and our major fights ahead. If you missed it, check it out here.
The Electric Vehicle transition remains a core issue for our union. Right now, we have UAW members in Lordstown, Ohio, making batteries for a GM “joint venture” called Ultium, earning just $16.50 an hour. EVs aren’t just coming – they’re here. And we support a clean auto industry. But we need to make sure the EV transition is a “just transition.” That means it’s not a race to the bottom. That means not allowing these companies to circumvent our contracts to pay low-road wages like they’re doing at Ultium.
Outside of the Big Three, the UAW continues to fight and win:
- We had a huge victory this week in the IPS sector, where over 400 workers at Yanfeng auto supplier outside Kansas City voted in a landslide to join UAW Local 710. These workers faced low wages, racial discrimination, and no seniority rights but they fought back and won their union. I want to personally welcome these workers to the family and let them know that myself and everyone else in the UAW have your backs as you fight for a first contract.
- Congratulations to Local 588 members at Metal-Matic who recently ratified their first contract. After 65 days on the picket line Local 588 was able to negotiate an agreement that achieves equal pay for equal work, a bedrock principle of unionism. These members proved that when we stand in solidarity, we can win.
- Higher education workers continue to organize, fight, and win, with major campaigns and organizing activity from the University of Maine to the University of Southern California. From coast to coast, the UAW continues to lead the way in building power on higher education campuses.
Your elected leadership on the International Executive Board are united and hard at work implementing the changes we believe are needed to transform our union back into a fighting organization. But it’s going to take all of us to get back in the fight. Send this message along to a UAW member in your life and ask them to sign up for Member Updates at UAW.org, and follow UAW on social media. We’re just getting started.
UAW President Shawn