As we approach the last few days before our contract expires, we met with UW Admin and discussed the outstanding issues in our current negotiations: namely wages, healthcare for paid direct Postdocs, childcare subsidies, appointment/reappointments, and sexual harassment training. We’ve made a lot of progress in addressing some of the issues affecting the most vulnerable Postdocs on campus, and are continuing to work to bargain a contract that addresses our equity aims in the context of economic uncertainty. Today’s bargaining session is summarized below, and we will also have our next Postdoc Membership meeting on Wednesday, January 27th at 5pm to discuss our remaining issues. RSVP here for Zoom information. Our last scheduled Bargaining Session will be on Thursday 01/28 at 1pm.
- Wages: We have not yet reached agreement on this issue, and will continue to work to try and reach agreement. As we’ve noted before, wage bargaining is challenging as other UW employees are facing layoffs, furloughs, and no wage increases. When the NIH announced a new payscale in early 2020, we delayed bargaining over wages given the pandemic; later in the yearUW started negotiations in December proposing zero wage increases. After multiple rounds of bargaining, UW Admin has now agreed to start providing step increases in the year 2021 for each year of experience per the current (2020) NIH wage scale. UW has also communicated that Postdocs paid above the scale will also be provided step increases but have not yet committed to memorialize this in the CBA. They also offered that if the economic outlook changes and UW implements a merit increase for professional staff during 2021 we could reopen negotiations. These are important steps, and we are carefully evaluating these proposed step increases and their implementation date. Please see the full texts of our proposals here and let us know if you have any questions or comments.
- Healthcare Stipend for Paid-Direct Postdocs: For our first contract in 2019, UW Admin declined to cover healthcare insurance for Postdocs who were paid directly from funding sources. This year, thanks to sustained mobilization by a majority of members who signed onto our Paid Direct Postdoc Healthcare petition, attended our October rally, and raised awareness in the UW Daily and other outlets, UW has now agreed to provide Paid-Direct Postdocs a monthly stipend of $500 to help offset the cost of paying for health insurance. We acknowledge that healthcare costs are high and while this amount will not fully cover plans comparable to PEBB, establishing a stipend-based model for Paid-Directs reflects an important win toward reducing healthcare disparities among UW Postdocs.
- Increased Childcare Fund: In December we made our first disbursement from our Childcare Fund, which was set at $30,000 for our first contract. While UW had initially wanted to maintain this amount for the next two years, we’ve communicated that this is another important issue for Postdocs facing extraordinary costs. Today we reached a tentative agreement to increase the amount in the fund to $45,000 in 2021 and $50,000 in 2022. The fund will be disbursed semiannually, allowing for more flexibility in offering this resource. Contact the Family Friendly Workgroup to get involved or provide feedback for the next disbursement process.
- EPIC training: We tentatively agreed to increase the current number of Postdoc EPIC (Empowering Prevention & Inclusive Communities) Trainers from one to three. These Trainers will be hired at 0.2 FTE each and will provide more resources for the EPIC program to work towards shifting UW culture and preventing institutionalized forms of discimination and harassment. We were pleased today to hear that UW is planning to build a system wide program that extends the innovations of the EPIC program to other campus employees. Winning additional resources for EPIC is another positive development in our efforts to create a more equitable campus, and continue to lead the way nationally.
- UPASS: The fully subsidized U-PASS will continue through the duration of the contract. We also agreed to maintain the current language in the Transportation Article.
- Contract length: Management has proposed that our new contract will expire Jan 31st, 2023.
- Titles and Classifications: We agreed to minor changes, including job code numbers along with titles for administrative clarification. As a result, Postdoctoral Scholars – Conditional may see a change in job title on Workday.
- Appointments and Reappointments: We agreed to maintain the current bargaining language in this Article, which would maintain the current appointment and reappointment minimums to one year, allowing at any time for departments to provide for longer appointments and reappointments. We made the difficult decision not to pursue guaranteed 2 year reappointments with the goal of making progress on the contract bargaining, and as a result were able to reach tentative agreement on a number of articles and make progress on Wages, Paid-Direct Postdoc healthcare, and the Childcare fund.
- Layoffs: We agreed to maintain the current contract language here, meaning that Postdocs will still receive 60 days notice in the case of layoffs (UW had proposed shortening the number of days).
- Corrective Action and Dismissal: We agreed to maintain the current contract language, meaning that just cause requirements are still needed in cases of corrective action or dismissal and Postdocs will still receive 30 days notice in the case of dismissal (UW had proposed less time).
- Healthcare Benefits Amounts: We agreed to updated language in Article 9: Healthcare Benefits Amounts to stay current with state regulations and PEBB guidelines.