This afternoon we met with the UW Administration to discuss outstanding issues in our current negotiations, specifically: how changes to our minimum salary scale will be implemented. We did not reach an agreement on this very important issue, and agreed to continue bargaining Friday morning. Our contract is slated to expire on Sunday.
Both parties agree that the minimum salary scale will be adjusted to match the 2020 NIH NRSA scale. However, UW Admin has proposed that this scale be implemented for new appointments and reappointments starting April 1st, 2021. This means that Postdocs in the middle of their appointment will maintain their current pay, and upon reappointment or anniversary date, be moved to the new minimum wage scale.
The UW admin’s implementation scheme introduces inequity to Postdoc wages. New Postdocs appointed before April 1 will have a minimum salary of $50,004/year and would need to wait 12 months to be paid according to the NIH scale, while Postdocs appointed after will have a minimum salary of $52,704/year. Postdocs who recently entered their third year of experience after April 1 will be making less than new Postdocs who are appointed after April 1. We know that most UW Postdoc contracts begin in August, September, and January of each year – and that even by December 2021, over a quarter of Postdocs will still be on the previous wage scale.
We forcefully stated how this implementation strategy reinforces and entrenches inequity among Postdocs by having Postdocs with the same experience paid at different levels. An equitable Wage article would move Postdocs to the new wage scale at the same time. The administration claimed this would create an undue managerial burden. We responded by noting that the administration was able to implement a similar adjustment in 2019 when our first contract went into effect. We also offered our help to implement such a change.
Another major disagreement involves how pay raises will work for Postdocs who are paid above their minimum experience level salary. The current contract guarantees these Postdocs will receive at least a 2% step increase raise upon reappointment, which is important for maintaining equity. Our current proposal maintains a similar increase, but UW Admin’s current proposal makes increases for Postdocs paid above their minimum experience level discretionary. This is further complicated by potential legislation that would limit pay increases for some WA state employees. In bargaining we stressed that in the face of such uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make sure all Postdocs are protected, particularly since we voluntarily decided to forego our range adjustment last year.
Our next scheduled Bargaining Session will be on Friday 01/29 at 9am. We will continue to seek creative solutions to these problems given the difficult circumstances. Please email us if you have questions or comments, or would like to talk with a bargaining committee member. For a full list of current bargaining proposals and the bargaining updates archive, please visit our Postdoc Bargaining Center.
And one last reminder that all Postdoc members are welcome at the bargaining table – to learn more about the bargaining process and get involved, please email email@example.com.
UAW 4121 Postdoc Bargaining Committee
Tanya Brown, Biology
Leandro Casiraghi, Biology
Amanda Clouser, Medicinal Chemistry
Max Friedfeld, Chemistry
Colleen Hoffman, CICOES & Oceanography
Tim Mackie, Pharmacology
Kim Meier, Psychology
Erin Morgan, Epidemiology
Anzela Niraula, Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition
Elena Pandres, Chemical Engineering