New unions for over 40K grad students, postdocs, researchers

January 30, 2024
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Last year, 26 new bargaining units representing over 40,000 graduate student workers, postdoctoral workers or researchers officially formed across the country, according to new data from the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.

The center, at the City University of New York’s Hunter College, listed all the bargaining units that were certified—by either the National Labor Relations Board or state labor relations agencies—or earned voluntary recognition from their institutions.

“Throughout calendar year 2023, massive growth continued in unionization among graduate student employees, postdoctoral scholars and researchers,” the center said in its newsletter this month.

The center previously reported that the number of specifically student worker bargaining units, including both undergraduate units and the much more common grad worker units, increased 54 percent just between January 2022 and July 2023. And in the last half of 2023, even more unionized, at Duke, Emory and Cornell universities, among others.

The center’s data say 11 new undergraduate-only bargaining units formed in 2023, representing 1,925 workers.

“Growth in the number of represented undergraduate student employees could substantially increase in 2024 following representation elections in the eight pending cases,” the newsletter said, “including the largest at California State University.” Cal State students are currently voting on whether to form a union, which could represent over 15,000 of them.

In addition, a total of 2,618 faculty members are newly covered by bargaining units formed last year, the center found.



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