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Graduate Student Unionization Election Outcome

Dear graduate students, faculty and staff,

The National Labor Relations Board has counted the votes that were cast on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a majority of voters who cast ballots voted to be represented by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). Of the 2,893 students who were eligible to vote, 1,644 voted in favor of unionization and 114 voted against unionization. This means that graduate assistants, teaching assistants, research assistants and fellows will be represented by the union when they are enrolled in Northwestern degree programs and providing instructional or research services for the University.

We thank the voters for casting ballots and respect their decision. We look forward to beginning the process of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement that works for both the University and graduate students within the bargaining unit.

While the University and UE make plans to begin the collective bargaining process, we expect there will be questions about unionization between now and the day we have a final contract. Over the coming weeks, we will update the graduate student unionization website with new information and frequently asked questions that address the next steps in this process. If you have specific questions, please submit them using the online form. Please bear in mind that the impact of this week’s election will not fully be known or understood until a contract is finalized.

Faculty and staff may freely discuss this topic with graduate students, and we ask for these dialogues to remain respectful and professional. As we have stated before, Northwestern deeply values the contributions that graduate students make to its research and teaching missions. We remain steadfast in our commitment to support, mentor and prepare graduate students for future success.


Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor 

Kelly Mayo
Dean of The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education