Harvard Student Workers Win Their Union, Join UAW


Successful vote is latest victory in growing grad worker union movement


Boston, MA – Graduate workers at Harvard have voted 56%, 1,931 to 1,523, in favor of joining the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW), according to ballots tallied by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The victory caps a multi-year effort, overcoming months of litigation that led the NLRB to throw out a previous election.

With this vote, more than 15,000 academic workers across the Northeast have chosen UAW representation in just over four years, bringing the national total to 75,000 academic workers represented by the UAW.  In its December 2017 decision directing the election at Harvard, the NLRB asserted that Harvard has waived its right to request review of the employee status of student workers.

“We have been organizing for a long time,” said Niharika Singh, a PhD student in Public Policy and a Teaching Fellow. “Winning our union today means we can finally start to make improvements to our working conditions. Our next step will be to democratically prioritize the changes we plan to bargain for.”


“This has been an incredibly long haul, and we are so energized by this vote,” said Abraham Waldman, a PhD student and Research Assistant in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department. “As hard as we worked to win, we know that this is just the beginning. Now we can turn to making Harvard a better place to work and study. We are confident that our union will be good for us and good for the University, and we expect Harvard to join NYU, The New School and other administrations to negotiate in good faith.”


“I want to congratulate Harvard’s student workers on their incredible hard work, and welcome them to the UAW,” said Julie Kushner, Director of UAW Region 9A.  “They overcame obstacle after obstacle to win a union for themselves and their peers. We look forward to supporting them as they move into bargaining a contract. We have a history of successfully bargaining with NYU, UConn, UMass and most recently, The New School, and are looking forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with Harvard. Today’s victory is a crucial moment in the growing student worker movement – it signals that the appointment of an anti-union NLRB will not stop the thousands who are fighting for their unions. We stand with them.”

For more information, contact:

Ken Lang: (
206) 390-4265
Brian Rothenberg: (614) 207-3237