Graduate Student Researchers at the RAND Corp. Vote to Unionize


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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.”

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