Bethesda, Maryland – Today, 4,800 early-career researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) filed to form their union, NIH Fellows United-UAW. This is the first union within the U.S. federal government for research fellows, which includes postbaccalaureate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral researchers.
The NIH is the largest biomedical research institution in the world, and fellows’ work is integral to the development of technologies and treatments to enhance public health. Workers cited ongoing issues around low pay, a lack of support for early-career researchers, and the need for a voice at work as reasons for their collective action.
They rallied today as they celebrated this milestone and then traveled to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to file for their union.
“Fellows don’t have any voice or power in this institution, so it feels like we’re cheap labor rather than equal members of a team,” said Travis Kinder, Research Fellow at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). “The changes we need at the NIH and in the world cannot be done alone and require us to work collectively.”