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Postdocs win unionization, vote finalized

A brick building looms overhead as the sun shines in the east.
Frist Campus Center.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Postdoctoral researchers at Princeton have won their union. The Princeton University Postdocs and Scholars (PUPS) X account posted the results to an election to decide if they will join a union with the United Auto Workers (UAW). According to PUPS, 484 postdocs voted in favor of unionizing while 89 voted against unionization.

The election was held Thursday evening in Frist Campus Center. Since the campaign to unionize started in December, over 65 percent of Princeton postdocs have signed union cards. 


The National Labor and Relations Board (NLRB) first ruled that postdocs would be able to pursue collective bargaining in 2016. Currently, Columbia, Harvard, and Brown also have postdoc unions, as does Cornell’s Weill Cornell medical school.

“I was confident in our campaign, because we’ve talked to so many postdocs and had already built strong majority support, and it’s so gratifying to see all that work pay off,” Jessica Ng, a postdoctoral research scholar in the High Meadows Institute and an organizer for PUPS, told The Daily Princetonian in an interview.

Dean of the Faculty Gene Jarrett wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince’ that “once the union is certified, we will move forward in good faith to engage constructively with the union to support all postdocs and associate research scholars at Princeton.”

He continued, “This milestone marks the beginning of a new chapter for all of us. By working collaboratively, we seek to create positive outcomes that benefit everyone in our community.”

Representatives from the NLRB, a representative from the University, and a PUPS representative coordinated the voting process.

Postdocs voted using paper ballots, which according to Ng, asked voters if they “support being represented through collective bargaining through the UAW.” The votes were counted manually.


This decision to unionize follows a series of actions from PUPS, most recently including a demonstration in April when a group of unionizers delivered a letter to Nassau Hall asking University administrators to remain neutral on the topic of unionization until the vote. Postdocs at the University used a similar strategy in January 2023 when they asked for salary increases.

In light of the unionization vote, Ng said she is “excited about working towards arguing demands and ironing out how we can really improve things for ourselves with postdocs at Princeton.” She specifically mentioned job security and free speech protections, referencing the arrest of a postdoc at a protest last week.

Graduate students are set to vote on whether or not to unionize on May 13 and 14.

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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