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Rutgers University Postdocs Form a Union

Three hundred and fifty postdocs at Rutgers University in New Jersey have voted to form a union, becoming the third group of postdocs in the United States to unionize. They will join the Rutgers Council of American Association of University Professors (AAUP)-American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents more than 5,000 faculty and graduate employees at Rutgers University.

“Especially in a rough economy, we had to protect our salaries and job security,” says Alan Wan, a postdoc and lead organizer.

Postdocs have traditionally shied away from unionizing out of concern that it could spoil their relationships with their mentors. At Rutgers, the faculty is also represented by AAUP-AFT. “Many of our principal investigators were very supportive of our efforts. By unionizing, we joined the rest of the university community,” says Wan. The next step for the new union is to negotiate a contract with Rutgers University, which will not happen until this fall.

The only other groups of unionized postdoctoral associates and fellows are at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington and the University of California.