WPI Graduate Student Workers Win Their Union


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Strong majority of Worcester Polytechnic Institutes’ Graduate Student Workers vote to unionize, adding momentum to the movement of academic organizing across the country.

According to votes counted last night by the National Labor Relations Board, a majority of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s more than 550 Graduate Workers have voted to form their union, WPI-GWU UAW. The vote was 364 to 15.

This comes on the heels of a successful vote at Washington State University where 1,500 academic workers chose to form a union, and brings the weekly total of higher education workers joining the UAW to over 2,000.

WPI graduate students teach and conduct research for the Institute, and are foundational to its mission. Over the past several years, many have seen no raises while enduring rising costs of living and significant increases in their healthcare costs.

“We are so thrilled with the result of this election,” said Sabine Hahn from the WPI Biology & Biotechnology program. “We look forward to working with WPI to bargain a strong first contract that includes improved benefits, worker protections, and compensation that reflects the value of our contributions.”

“Congratulations to these academic workers, who need and deserve a voice at work,” said Ray Curry, President of the UAW. “We were proud to support them, and thousands others at colleges, universities and research institutes across the nation, who are organizing to improve their quality of life. UAW represents more student workers than any other union, and we are building the kind of power that raises standards on compensation, benefits and rights for teachers and researchers all across our higher education system.”

“We are excited to welcome another group of graduate student workers into our growing UAW family,” said Beverley Brakeman, Director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New England, New York City and Puerto Rico.  “With a union, WPI’s graduate workers will finally be able to sit down with the administration to work out solutions to the serious problems they face – and we will continue to have their back.”

Since the UAW helped win the historic Columbia decision in 2016, an unprecedented number of student workers have organized at the University of Massachusetts, Harvard, Columbia, University of Connecticut, New York University and more.

Within the past year, student employees at Harvard and Columbia have settled contracts raising standards to keep up with the rising cost of living, and more than 17,000 researchers at the University of California have had their union certified and have begun bargaining for their first contract.

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