11/17 Mass Meeting

RSVP: https://forms.gle/8Q1PMRyGKPaSjP9UA

Next week (Thursday 11/17 at 12:00pm in HSB D-209, Turner Auditorium) we are holding an important mass meeting along with our recently unionized Research Scientist/Engineer colleagues to discuss strategies for supporting each other and winning strong contracts. Please attend (in person if possible*) to hear important updates, make our participation visible, and help decide a path forward. *We ask that all in person attendees please wear masks.

Read on for updates about bargaining and why we need to be discussing action plans now!

11/07 Bargaining Recap

On Monday, we had our second bargaining session with UW Administration. Like our first session, the primary focus of this one was central UW Admin’s proposal to move Postdocs into overtime non-exempt titles and to require us to begin reporting our hours beginning January 1, 2023. We noted several problems with their proposal:

  • They intend to make PIs, Supervisors and Department admin responsible for deciding how to implement hours tracking, but could not clearly answer questions or provide information about how central admin interprets key concepts (such as what is a shift? What is a work location? What constitutes work hours? etc)
  • Admin also could not provide a clear timeline for when these questions would be answered, even though they are intending to begin requiring hours reporting on January 1st. This could give rise not only to management violating their obligation to bargain impacts of this decision, it could create substantial confusion and equity problems throughout our unit and disrupt research
  • Hours reporting is not likely to be more cost effective or cost-predictable than raising Postdoc pay to be over the exempt threshold (Postdocs typically work well over 40 hours per week)

Our solution to all of these problems is simple: pay Postdocs above the minimum wage threshold required to remain exempt, thereby enabling us to avoid reporting hours (see the entirety of our Wages proposal here). This is consistent with the intent of the law, which previous generations of Postdocs helped pass: to enable salaried employees to earn wages that keep pace with housing and other costs of living year over year in Washington State. It is also consistent with the perspective of several PIs, Departments, and Supervisors, who have been communicating with us that they would like to also increase pay above the exempt threshold. However, given central UW Admin’s disconnect with the intent of the law and the sentiment of many of us involved in research, it is clear to us that our proposal and the others below will not be won without further mobilization by ALL postdocs.

In addition to our proposal on compensation we presented the following:

  • Article 12: Intellectual Property and Academic Rights. We proposed to incorporate the University’s Research Misconduct Policy, into our Collective Bargaining Agreement;
  • Article 5: Childcare. We proposed to increase the size of the caregiver fund to $150,000 in 2023 to support more Postdoc Caregivers.
  • Article 17: Orientation includes proposed changes to reflect current practices;
  • Article 4: Appointments and Reappointments. We proposed to extend minimum appointment and reappointment length to two years and require the University to provide 60 day notice for renewals;
  • Article 25: Titles and Classifications. We proposed to increase the maximum time spent as a Postdoc to 6 years;
  • We proposed a number of changes to Article 24: Time Off and Leaves, including enabling vacation and sick time pay out and transfer, expanding bereavement leave to cover miscarriage and stillbirth; expanding supplemental benefits for Postdocs on Paid Family and Medical Leave who have exhausted their leave balances, and new langauge to access civil duty time off, military leave, and leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • ​​Article 9: Healthcare Benefits Amounts, we proposed updated language that is consistent with state-wide modifications to PEBB insurance structures; and
  • A new article which would provide affordable on-campus housing for all Postdocs and create annual housing affordability payments that ensure Postdocs are not rent burdened (i.e. pay more than 30% of their wages in rent).

UW Admin had no counter-proposals, but indicated that some would be ready at our next bargaining session. You can read all the proposals that both parties have made at the Postdoc Bargaining Center page, and please reach out with any questions.

Our next bargaining session is on Friday 11/18. As always, all Postdocs are welcome to attend. In the meantime, please RSVP now for the critical meeting on 11/17 to discuss bargaining in detail and decide next steps! Thanks for your continued support and participation.

In solidarity,

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