Friday, February 15, 2019
Yesterday was an eventful day at the bargaining table!
Some good news: We agreed on important conditions for how Postdocs can and cannot be disciplined and dismissed, ensuring that Postdocs are guaranteed due process and fair treatment (“just cause”) and can’t be terminated arbitrarily. We also made progress on securing access to professional development services, and establishing important intellectual property and academic rights. We are confident we can reach agreement on those articles soon.
The bad news though, is that the Admin’s first economic proposals (which we’re starting to see for the first time after 9 months of bargaining) are wildly unacceptable. We received a package that includes Wages, Leaves, Appointments & Reappointments and other proposals. Some highlights:
- Salaries: the minimum salary scale they proposed is tied to the 2019 NIH Postdoc levels (starting at $50k), does not track NIH increases, and proposes only 1% yearly raise for those above the minimum.
- This is far below the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (see recommendation 4.1, fourth bullet point), upon which our salary proposal was based.
- The wages proposal also made no mention of giving back pay to the Postdocs whose raises have been inappropriately withheld over the past year.
- Hourly work reporting: Because the state government may be raising the salary threshold for overtime pay (to keep up with the increase in minimum wage), the University is proposing changes that could require all Postdocs to report each hour of work and get approval to work over 40 hours per week. As we strenuously argued today, that would be a drastic change to how research gets done and would place a huge burden on Postdocs, PIs, and administrators.
- Vacation & leaves: Admin proposed several changes, including removing the 90 days of sick leave currently provided for Postdocs (which UW normally allows birth mothers to use for parental leave) and replace that with a proposal to provide the new Family Medical Leave Benefit that comes online in January, 2020. They are also insisting on charging Postdocs premiums for this benefit, despite our pointing out that the law permits but doesn’t require this.
- Appointments: they again proposed minimum initial appointments and reappointments of just 1 year (and that there are exceptions to even that minimum). We have proposed 2 year appointments and reappointments, with flexibility depending on funding availability and other considerations.
Keep in mind that these are first proposals, and we know UW Administration intends to improve them over time. Nonetheless, the consistent message they’ve sent is that they think the status quo is good enough.
As we’ve seen many times before, a strong contract will depend on Postdocs staying engaged and exercising the incredible power we have when we act collectively! Keep in mind that it has now been 9 months since we voted for a union and made our initial demand to bargain.
Please reach out with ideas, questions, or comments, and check out all the details here.
General meeting, February 25th, 5:00 pm:
Please join us for our next general meeting on February 25th at 5pm in MolES 115. We will discuss recent bargaining news, elect new bargaining committee members and look ahead to what’s next.
Equity Survey Reminder:
If you’ve not yet done so, we urge you take fifteen minutes now to fill out our Equity Survey. Feedback from all Postdocs is crucial to winning strong discrimination protections at the bargaining table!
Your UWPU / UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee
Tina Angerer, Bioengineering
Pamela Baker, Biological Structure
Matt Crane, Chemistry
Marina Dütsch, Earth and Space Sciences
Max Friedfeld, Chemistry
Hannah Horowitz, Atmospheric Sciences
Ajay Jajodia, Medical Genetics
Kelly Patton, Physics
Hossein Sartipizadeh, Aeronautics & Astronautics
Abdul Basit Shaikh, Pharmaceutics
Thomas Smith, Medical Genetics
Michael Taylor, Bioengineering
Jian Wang, Chemistry
Alex White, Psychology
Huajun Xu, Chemistry
Jiae Lee, Biochemistry