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‘Thrilled’ UW Researchers vote Union YES!

New bargaining unit includes 1,450 Research Scientists/Engineers from every discipline across all three UW campuses


The following is from UW Researchers United (UAW 4121):

SEATTLE (June 10, 2022) — By an 85 percent margin (606-104) Research Scientists/Engineers at the University of Washington have chosen to unionize. Of the 916 total votes, 206 cast were subject to challenge by the UW administration and were not tallied because they were not determinative of the outcome. The total unit is 1,458 Researchers. The Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission is expected to issue an interim certification for the union in the coming weeks.

“After incredible participation in our union election, our Researcher Union is official! I am thrilled we are one step closer to bargaining a fair contract with the UW Administration,” said Cara Margherio, Research Scientist 4 in the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity. “In the thousands of conversations we’ve had with fellow Researchers, one thing is clear – we make valuable contributions at UW and love our work, and we are ready to have a voice equal to the administration in determining how to make UW an even better place for research.”

Research Scientists/Engineers do advanced work, often following years of training and experience, to address society’s most urgent issues: from COVID-19 to climate change and more. Yet their compensation is not always commensurate with their contributions, and they lack job stability and career development and advancement opportunities. They are at risk of being forced out of the research careers they love because they struggle to afford housing and child care, and they do not have effective recourse against the institutional discrimination and harassment that pervades academic research.

The vote came after Researchers had already asserted that a majority of the bargaining unit had signed authorization cards when filing their representation petition in December 2021. But after months of delay by the UW Administration, who challenged the eligibility of over 200 members of the bargaining unit, the Researchers pushed for a representation election instead of card check. This helped expedite the certification process so Researchers can begin bargaining.

“This is a great result. When you take into account the challenged voters, we believe a majority of the entire unit voted yes,” said Tricia Wu, Research Scientist 2 in the Department of Biological Structure. “But we’re done with delays. It’s extremely frustrating that we’ve had to wait this long, and that UW is still making hundreds of baseless challenges and has a history of dragging things out in bargaining. We hope UW Admin will be ready to meet us at the bargaining table immediately and move quickly to reach a fair agreement.”

Winning certification in less than six months is historically fast for large bargaining units at the University of Washington, where months and even years of delay are common. Ron McInroy, Director of UAW Region 4 which includes Washington state, noted that, “Research Scientists are showing that they’re not going to let the University administration slow them down. The UAW International has their backs. We’ll keep fighting until these workers get the respect they deserve.”

The UAW represents nearly 100,000 academic employees at more than 40 universities and colleges nationwide, including at the University of Washington, the University of California, and Columbia University. UW Researchers will join UAW Local 4121, the union of 6,000 Academic Student Employees and Postdocs at UW, as a separate bargaining unit and bargain their own contract. Learn more at


Are you ready to have a voice at work?  Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!