UAW 4121
We were bargaining with UW Admin on Wednesday and Thursday for the last two sessions before the end of the year. We are making progress on all aspects of the contract but still have some ways to go and continue to see some concerning, arbitrary divisions in the way Admin is approaching this contract. Please register to attend an important action planning meeting on 1/6/23 at 12pm here. It will be crucial to continue building on the efforts from last week’s action to continue making progress in bargaining to ensure no one is left behind in our new contract.

Wage updates:
Admin re-asserted their same wage proposal (PDF link) from last week to increase wages for Postdoctoral Scholars to $65,508 (just above the new minimum salary threshold to remain overtime exempt) without making other changes. We proposed a temporary memorandum of understanding (PDF link) that would provide the same increase to Postdoc Fellows and Paid Direct Postdocs (PDRs) while we continuing to bargaining over a comprehensive Compensation article and other parts of the Collective Bargaining Agreement after 1/1/23. However Admin would not agree to include nearly 150 Postdocs whose wages are paid via fellowships or external funding sources. Their position is that since a few fellowships may not allow supplemental pay beyond the fellowship amount, they didn’t want to agree to an increase for all because they didn’t believe they had the resources to determine which Postdoc Fellows might not be eligible. In response to our offer to give Admin time to figure that out, then make any increases retroactive to January 1, Admin also declined. Note that in our current and previous collective bargaining agreements all Postdocs have been covered by the same wage increase language, regardless of their funding source (Fellowship and in Paid Direct status), unless expressly prohibited by their grants. We concluded our session by stating that we had no objection to the University increasing wages for Scholars but strongly disagreed with their decision not to do the same for everyone. As an aside, the University Administration would also not agree to increase wages for currently overtime exempt Research Scientists (many of whom were former Postdocs), who are bargaining their first contract.

While we do expect Admin to move ahead with increases on January 1st for Postdoctoral Scholars rather than convert us to hourly overtime eligible employees, we unfortunately do not expect Fellows and PDRs to see increases. Admin has stated that they do not believe Fellows and PDRs are subject to reporting hours under the Washington State Minimum Wage Act, and they have proposed increasing wages for Fellows on their anniversary date, so if the one year anniversary date of your appointment arises in January please let us know so we can work with you to secure a raise. But since the University Admin would not enter an agreement covering all Postdocs we expect discrepancies between Scholars, Fellows, and PDRs, which in our view will create more confusion and equity issues. Communication will be particularly important in the early weeks of January: if you have any questions and particularly if you are told you need to start tracking hours or seek approval for your hours, we want to hear about it. Please reach out via email: We will continue bargaining on this important issue in January.

Other bargaining updates:
The administration made positive movement on articles concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. In particular, their most recent counter-proposals include our language requiring the university and union to jointly distribute an annual equity survey for Postdocs, empowering us to have a systematic process for understanding people’s experiences and collecting data on workplace climate. That is not something that employers typically do! This progress is due to the success of the EPIC program and our advocacy for it during bargaining. We are continuing to work on expanding Article 16, Non-discrimination and Harassment, to include illustrative examples of inappropriate behavior that Postdocs have the right to grieve under our current contract. We made clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion will remain a priority for us in upcoming sessions.

Unfortunately, UW Admin made less progress in other areas, including by proposing no changes regarding Postdoc minimum appointment and reappointment length and total tenure. We discussed how important longer appointments are to stability in science and research and how longer appointments have such an important impact on international Postdocs. Management still has not provided a counter on our proposals surrounding International Scholars and Paid-Direct Postdocs. Management did propose an increase in the childcare fund to $60,000 per year, and we provided a counterproposal that it be raised to $90,000. These important articles are also part of a holistic contract that works to address important diversity and equity needs for Postdocs, and we need to continue pushing Admin to make movement here.

We also reached a tentative agreement on Article 24 (Time Off and Leaves) (PDF link). Much of this article has been retained from our previous contract, but we now have bereavement time off guaranteed in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth. In addition, we now have codified time off for civic duty, as well as for leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Though we are making progress, the fight is far from over and bargaining will continue on January 4th, 2023. As always, all Postdocs are welcome to attend; please reply to this email for additional details. Thanks for your continued support and participation. You can read all the proposals that both parties have made and the tentative agreements at the Postdoc Bargaining Center page, and please reach out with any questions.

In solidarity,

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