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Graduate student union vote fails, 391–652

Grad College - Louisa Gheorghita.jpeg
Over 73 percent of eligible graduate students voted in the election.
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

Following elections held Monday, May 13 and Tuesday, May 14, University graduate students have voted against joining the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE), with 391 in favor and 652 against. This decision follows postdocs voting last week to join the United Auto Workers (UAW).  

Unionization has been under consideration by graduate students at the University since 2016, when Princeton Graduate Students United (PGSU) was formed. They filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in April.  


The election was held in Frist 302, similar to the postdoc election. Over 73 percent of 1,523 eligible graduate students voted in the election, per a statement to The Daily Princetonian by Dean of the Graduate School Rodney Priestley. 

He also noted that the NLRB must “provide a final confirmation and certification of the election’s outcome” before the election results are finalized.  

The loss follows a campaign by some graduate students to vote no on the union. According to the campaign's website, “Princeton University Graduate Students Against UE,” they urged students to “consider if this United Electrical Workers (UE) union is right for every Princeton grad student. If it passes, it will be very hard to go back.” The group points to a number of issues unionizing with the UE specifically, such as their union dues, and a lack of “informed consensus” facilitated by PGSU.

Aditi Rao, an organizer for PGSU, as well as the ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampment’ at Princeton, posted on Twitter, “This has been the most demoralizing 24 hours. Princeton is imminently closing our camp, my peers foreclosed on our representation. It's an acute loss.”

“I have so much grief in me for all of us who organized endlessly against every odd at every turn only to find ourselves here tonight,” Rao added.

“In this next chapter, we look forward to finding opportunities to continue to strengthen our partnership, enhance the student experience, and advance Princeton graduate education,” Priestley wrote in his statement to the ‘Prince.’ “As we have said throughout this campaign, the Graduate School will always support you.”


Meghana Veldhuis is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Bergen County, N.J. and typically covers faculty and graduate students.

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