The secret-ballot election to determine whether eligible graduate students wish to be represented by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) was held on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, 2023 in Evanston and Chicago.
Of the 2,893 students who were eligible to vote, 2,014 students actually voted. Of those who voted, 1,644 students voted in favor of unionization and 114 voted against unionization. This means that, subject to limited exceptions, graduate assistants, teaching assistants, graduate research assistants and graduate fellows will be represented by the union when they are enrolled in Northwestern degree programs and providing instructional or research services for the University. Negotiations between the University and union representatives began on June 5, 2023 and will continue until a collective bargaining agreement is finalized.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the election:
Who is included in the bargaining unit?
The NLRB certified a unit definition that includes the following students:
Graduate students enrolled in Northwestern University degree programs who are providing instructional and research services for the University, including graduate assistants, teaching assistants, research assistants and fellows.
Who is excluded from the bargaining unit?
The NLRB certified a unit definition that excludes the following individuals:
All other employees; graduate students who are not providing instructional or research services for the University; undergraduate students; graduate students not seeking Northwestern degrees, including visiting students; graduate student graders, tutors and proctors who are not otherwise providing instructional or research services for the University; assistant chairs in residential colleges; residential assistants; students enrolled in the Pritzker School of Law; M.D. seeking students in the Feinberg School of Medicine (including M.D./Ph.D. students in Feinberg who are in their M.D. phase of studies); students enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism; office clericals; managers; guards and supervisors as defined in the Act.
Please note: Bargaining unit inclusions and exclusions are the product of negotiations between the University and the UE union, with input and guidance from the NLRB.
Who was eligible to vote?
Graduate students who (a) met the criteria in the “Included” definition above; (b) did not meet the criteria in the “Excluded” definition above; (c) received pay, via payroll, for providing instructional or research services for the University in the November 2022 monthly (Nov. 30) payroll or the Dec. 10, 2022 bi-weekly payroll; and (d) had not graduated or withdrawn from enrollment as of the date of the election.
Will any graduate students who were not eligible to vote be in the union?
Yes, subject to limited exclusions, graduate students will be represented by the union when they are performing instructional or research services for the University. Conversely, graduate students will not be represented by the union when they are not performing instructional or research services for the University.