Where things stand

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America union (UE) is seeking to represent a subset of Broad employees. (See the FAQ for why we're referring to the UE and not Broad RATs United.)
This process begins with the solicitation of signatures on union authorization cards. 
An important update: On August 25, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision (in a different case) that significantly changed the impact of signing a union authorization card. Prior to this decision, signed cards could be used by union organizers to petition for an election or demand voluntary recognition by Broad. Now, the cards can also increasingly be used by union organizers to put a union in place without an election.
Broadies have been asking excellent questions about the card signing campaign. So, Broad Human Resources and Communications have put this site together to compile answers to frequently asked questions with the hope of helping all Broadies be informed. We want to encourage all members of the Broad community to educate themselves about this important matter.
Broadies have the freedom to decide for themselves how they feel about unionization, including whether to sign a union authorization card. If you are being asked to sign a card, it’s okay to wait and do more research before you make a decision. 
All Broadies deserve respect, no matter their position on these unionization efforts, as we all share the goal of making Broad a great place to work and drive science forward.

Last updated: September 1, 2023

Broadies at a retreat poster session

What are union authorization cards?

Union authorization cards are written declarations, analogous to a “power of attorney,” that employees eligible for membership in a potential bargaining unit will sign to provide authority to a particular union to be their exclusive representative for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment with their employer.


Depending on the type of card used by the union, it may be more than a request for an election or a request for information from the union – it may be a request and acceptance of membership in a national union. This type of union card is called a “dual purpose card” because the signatory is declaring that they want to be represented by the union and they’re requesting and accepting membership in the union.


This means, among other things, that the employee is agreeing to be bound by the union’s constitution and bylaws – at the authorization card stage, before the union has filed a petition for an election with the NLRB. 


What does it mean to sign an authorization card?


Signing a union card is signing a legal document. The extent of the signatory’s legal obligation will vary depending on the type of card they’ve signed. For example, if the employee has signed a dual purpose card, they have signed a legal document in which they have:

  • Signed over “power of attorney” to the union to immediately speak on their behalf about their job, even before a vote; and,

  • Requested and also accepted membership in the union, which includes the employee legally committing to the rules of the union, including its constitution and bylaws, again before there has even been an election.

Signing a dual purpose card is more than a signal of support or a sign-up for an email list. The card is not merely requesting a secret ballot election. Signing the card also is not merely an act of solidarity.


Broadies are well-educated, highly skilled and deeply engaged in the Broad community. And, above all, Broadies are united in their support of Broad’s mission. Without doubt, Broadies who are eligible to sign union cards will think carefully about what this means, ask questions of both the national union and of management, and make informed decisions.


More about authorization cards >>

Questions about unions

What is a union?

A union is an organization that represents certain employees, generally called a “bargaining unit,” in connection with the negotiation of various terms and conditions of employment, such as wages, benefits, hours and working conditions.

What is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)?

The NLRB, a federal agency, enforces the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which is a federal law created to protect the rights of employers and employees, whether an employee is in favor of or against unionization.

Who is the UE?

UE is an independent union that traditionally represents members in electrical manufacturing and metalworking. UE members are also employees and workers in science, healthcare and education.

What roles at Broad might be included in the proposed bargaining unit?

According to the UE’s publicly accessible website, the UE seeks to represent all Research Associates, all Computational Associates/Associate Computational Biologists, all (Clinical) Process (Development) Associates and Technicians, all Bioautomation Engineers and Specialists, Biorepository Support Associates, Clinical Genomic Research Coordinators, Clinical Laboratory (Change) Leads, Clinical Laboratory Team Leads, all Comparative Med Technicians, all Laboratory (Operations) Coordinators and Specialists, Product Coordinators, all Resource Technologists, and Technical Lead I roles at Broad.


More about unions and the process >>


More about representation petitions and elections >>


Have questions not answered here? Ask us at inform@broadinstitute.org.