NUGW union with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America authorized following two-day election


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

The union was authorized after a majority voted in favor of the union (1,644 to 114).

Pavan Acharya and Fiona Roach

Northwestern University Graduate Workers’ union with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America has been certified following two days of voting in Chicago and Evanston, NUGW announced Thursday.

The union was authorized after a majority (1,644 to 114) voted in favor of the union.

“I’m just incredibly floored by what the outcome of all this hard work has been,” said Emilie Lozier, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemistry and NUGW co-chair. “I think everyone who’s been involved has known how hard we’ve been pushing.”

Prior to the election, more than 1,600 graduate voters pledged to vote “yes.”

The union election, moderated by the National Labor Relations Board, took place Jan. 10 and 11 after years of grassroots organizing by NU graduate workers.

Andrew Hull (Weinberg M.A. ’18/Ph.D. ’22), former co-chair of NUGW, said while he is no longer a graduate student at NU, he has been following the election very closely and is overjoyed with the results.

“It makes me feel so happy to know that Northwestern graduate workers now have a really zealous advocate for them, made up of them,” Hull said. “This type of landslide is the stuff of dreams.”

NUGW filed for the election after the University chose to not voluntarily recognize the organization’s union with UE in November. The election was authorized by a supermajority of union cards from a campaign launched in October.

The graduate workers’ organization efforts center on a platform with five goals: competitive pay, professional standards in labs and classrooms, power to address misconduct, comprehensive healthcare and financial support for international students.

Fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemistry Mara Fattah said she thinks a change in salary may take longer to negotiate, but she is hopeful the union will be able to advocate for improved healthcare.

“(The results) just show how united the graduate students of Northwestern are and how strongly we wanted this union.” Fattah said. “It feels revolutionary. I’m hoping that students who are interested in applying to Northwestern know that other graduate students at Northwestern have each other’s backs, and we fought for change, and now we’re hopefully going to see change.”

[Read The Daily’s investigation into University workers rights and unionization efforts]

NUGW, as a union, now has an official mechanism to bargain with the University. Lozier said NUGW’s next steps will involve ensuring the organization is representing everyone’s needs throughout the bargaining process.

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