Bargaining Update, Action Planning Meeting Tomorrow

Please RSVP to an important meeting on Friday 1/6 at 12pm to meet with other Postdocs and Research Scientists and discuss building collective action needed to win a fair contract.

Following our last bargaining session, in which admin continued to refuse to bring Fellows & Paid-Directs above the new overtime exempt salary threshold alongside Scholars, many Postdocs have reached out about these wage inequities. Admin’s decision to exclude fellows from wage increases on January 1 effectively punishes us for winning competitive awards, and their decision to exclude Paid Directs entirely has disproportionate impacts on International Postdocs. We have consistently made proposals in bargaining that would ensure everyone – Fellows, Paid-Directs, and Scholars – receive equitable increases that keep our wages on pace with living expenses. We will continue bargaining on this as negotiations continue, and if you have any questions or are told you need to start tracking or seeking approval for your hours, please reach out via email:

At yesterday’s bargaining session, we discussed a number of proposals:

  • Appointment Length: We proposed increasing reappointment lengths from 1 year to 2 years, which would improve appointment security for all Postdocs. Similar to previous bargaining sessions, we again made clear to admin that this change would be particularly helpful for international Postdocs in reducing stress and disruptions around visa renewals during reappointment. Most grants and budgets span multiple years and this would provide job security and support upon reappointment. Instead of addressing the needs we raised, Management responded by reasserting current contract language.
  • International Postdocs and Visa status: Last month, we made a proposal that would expand visa options for Postdocs (including allowing Postdocs to apply for H1B visas without exhausting other visa options), provide visa fee reimbursements, and support travel costs for visa appointments. Once again, instead of addressng the needs we raised, Management responded by reasserting current contract language.
  • Non-Discrimination: From recent surveys, we know that too many Postdocs (especially BIPOC and trans Postdocs) face significant issues with harassment and bullying at UW. While our existing contract language provides strong protections against these issues, having clear examples and specificity greatly increases the likelihood of someone seeking help when they experience abuse. At our last bargaining session, we proposed language that would add clarity to our existing protections against serious abuses such as persistent and/or egregious bullying, belittling, and intimidation. In yesterday’s session, Management rejected our language, instead proposing language about protections against retaliation that are already expressly covered. Rather than address the real issues of abuse we raised, they focused on unrelated examples of people being offended, and said they were worried that providing examples of inappropriate behavior would limit free speech. We responded by reiterating that our proposal is about making it easier for Postdocs to access our existing protections against serious issues of inappropriate behavior, and wouldn’t infringe on legitimate free speech. We also reiterated from previous sessions that our language already has provisions that explicitly address their concerns.
  • Housing: We’ve proposed a new article that would provide access to affordable housing for all Postdocs and ensure no Postdoc is rent burdened. Management’s response earlier was to withdraw the proposal and yesterday in response to our revised proposal, Management did not have any questions or response.

While we have been able to make progress on important areas in bargaining so far, there are still a number of significant issues unresolved, and Admin’s approach continues to rely on deflections and inequitable divisions. With only 4 scheduled bargaining sessions remaining, they are making it clear that they will not make any real movement on these issues without significant additional pressure. It is more important now than ever that every single Postdoc gets involved in building mass momentum and pressure for our collective demands. It’s critical that everyone come to an important meeting this Friday at noon via zoom alongside UW Research Scientist/Engineers to determine next steps for taking action to win the contracts we deserve. Please RSVP today.

Membership Meeting Thurs 1/12

Our next membership meeting will be next Thursday 1/12 from 5-6pm, and will be conducted via Zoom. To access the Zoom link, fill out this RSVP form. All members in good standing are encouraged to attend, and new members may sign up for UAW4121 by filling out this membership form. The proposed agenda for the meeting is as follows:

  • Approve Agenda
  • Approve Minutes
  • Budget Workgroup
  • Organizing & Bargaining Updates
  • EPIC and Equity Survey
  • Adjourn

Any member who would like to propose additional agenda items or submit materials for the meeting is welcome to email by 5pm on Wednesday 1/11. For more information about how the meeting will be structured and how you can use Zoom’s features to participate, check out this page on our website.

In solidarity,

UWPU/UAW Bargaining Committee
Luci Baker, Mechanical Engineering
Rebecca Bluett, Biochemistry
Brant Bowers, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Tucker Burgin, Chemical Engineering
Pat Erickson, Institute for Protein Design
Jer Steeger, Philosophy