UAW 4121
Thank you to the ~200 of you who were able to join yesterday either in real life or via Zoom for our Mass Meeting! It is energizing to be in solidarity with you all. The main takeaway: In order to win strong contracts without continued delays, it will take every Research Scientist (RSE) and Postdoc (PD) coming together to build power through collective action. To that end, please go place a hold on your calendars right now for our next mass meeting on December 15th midday (specific time TBD), which will be a critical moment to build pressure to win the contracts we deserve.

If you weren’t able to make the Mass Meeting, these are some highlights:

  • PD bargaining began in October and UW Admin started negotiations by announcing their plans to move Postdocs into overtime non-exempt titles and to require anyone making below $65,478 to begin reporting our hours beginning January 1, 2023. As we have proposed in Postdoc bargaining, we believe a better solution is clear: raise salaries above the threshold, which would avoid the complications of hours reporting and ensure our wages keep pace with living costs. If you are a Postdoc and you have been told you may be switched to an Overtime-Non-Exempt position, please reach out to let us know what has been communicated to you! You can email us at
  • We’re deeply concerned about the impacts of UW’s continued tactic in RSE bargaining to delay, delay, delay. Our RSE colleagues are now in month 11 of our efforts to win a fair contract and UW Admin are saying there is “no end in sight” to negotiations. Compensation for RSEs is falling farther behind market rates, and the new living wage overtime exemption threshold is increasing on January 1, 2023. Current compensation is not sufficient to keep up with increasing cost of living.
    • You are considered rent burdened if paying more than 30% of your income toward rent. 47% of RSEs and 70% of postdocs are rent burdened. 
    • UW’s own salary survey shows UW currently pays RSEs 30% below market. This isn’t news to UW; they have known for at least a decade that they are underpaying RSEs.
  • 48,000 of our peers in the University of California system (postdocs, staff researchers, academic student employees) are in the middle of a historic strike for livable wages. Sarah Arveson (postdoc and VP of UAW 5810) generously stepped away from one of UC Berkeley’s nine picket lines to share updates with our unit about how they are currently bringing all UC campuses to a standstill until administration actually negotiates with them in good faith. Additionally, after more than a year of delays and obstruction from UW admin, yesterday, UW Libraries & Press Staff voted 94% to authorize an open-ended strike, if necessary, to get a fair first contract.

Like other UW and UC workers, we see that winning a contract that improves compensation and creates a more just and equitable workplace will fundamentally require additional mass action. We have an unprecedented opportunity to work together as Postdocs and Research Scientists/Engineers and in the meeting yesterday we resolved to take it. Everyone’s involvement is critical to win a fair contract, otherwise bargaining will take many months more. In addition to holding time on December 15th for our next meeting, please be on the lookout for more announcements about meetings and action you can participate in to make our demands visible. Together we are powerful and can win strong contracts.

Our next Postdoc bargaining session is on Monday 11/21. As always, all Postdocs are welcome to attend, please reply to this email for additional details. Thanks for your continued support and participation.

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