|Our organizing is working! Just days after last week’s mass meeting, where nearly 200 Postdocs & Research Scientists came together to discuss bargaining and what it will take to win fair contracts, today UW Admin made significant movement towards us with a compensation proposal that would move Postdoc minimum pay to $65,508. For weeks, Admin has been saying that in response to changes in Washington overtime standards, they intended to move Postdocs into titles that would require us to track hours, rather than simply increasing Postdoc pay to meet the minimum set by the new overtime threshold. We have made it clear – and many faculty have expressed agreement – that a better solution is to raise all Postdoc above the minimum overtime threshold, which is designed to keep wages on pace with living costs in Washington.
To be clear: the movement we saw today was not a coincidence or an inevitability. It was a direct result of Postdocs across UW getting involved to build collective power – including hundreds of us coming together in coordination with Research Scientists/Engineers for last week’s mass meeting. Today’s proposal is also directly responsive to the organizing of our colleagues at the University of California, where 48,000 Postdocs, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees, and Student Researchers are striking for fair compensation, better childcare provisions, and more.
However, while this proposal is significant, it still falls short in a number of areas, such as the exclusion of Postdoctoral Fellows until their reappointment date, the exclusion of Paid-Direct Postdocs, and the lack of experience-based pay raises. UW Admin also still has not provided counter proposals on our articles to improve appointment security and protection, support Postdoc parents and International Scholars, and support commute reduction. In the coming weeks, it will be critical to continue building power to win a fair contract. Please mark your calendars for our next mass meeting on December 15th midday (specific time TBD).
In addition to the discussion around Postdoc compensation, we presented a number of proposals in our bargaining sessions on Friday and Monday:
- Our proposal on Article 27 Transportation would take steps to support commute reduction efforts for Postdocs, including ensuring the subsidized U-PASS program continues, expanding access to campus shower facilities, and establishing UW support to bicycle commuters to make repairs and improvements to their commute equipment.
- Our proposal on Article 19 Professional Development and Career Counseling would create three positions to support campus-wide career development efforts for Postdocs by establishing peer-led programming, one-on-one development feedback for Postdocs, and developing new development programs.
- Our proposal on Immigration Status and Visas seeks to reduce the financial burden on visa-seeking postdocs by preventing UW from passing fees to Postdocs and allowing for reimbursement of fees that Postdocs pay for visa sponsorship/renewal. It also provides for compensation for necessary travel during the visa application/renewal process. Our proposal also removes UW restrictions on H1-B visa sponsorship to support Postdocs who want to apply for that type of work authorization.
- Our proposal on Postdoctoral Scholar Paid Direct increases the monthly stipend to $650 to account for the increasing healthcare costs.
We also reached tentative agreement on two articles:
- Article 9 Healthcare Benefits Amounts has been updated to reflect negotiated changes to the Public Employees Benefits Board healthcare negotiations. Our employee portion of the premium payments for PEBB insurance plans will remain at 15% through 2025.
- Article 17 Orientation is now called New Employee Orientation and includes language that reflects a current practice where new employees can take a self-paced version of the benefits and union orientation. Orientations will also be required for new Postdocs working on main campus to ensure that everyone receives critical information about their benefits and protections.
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 Monday 11/28. As always, all Postdocs are welcome to attend. Thanks for your continued support and participation.
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