Dear UAW Member,
Today we met with UW Admin and discussed the outstanding issues in our current contract negotiations: namely wages, healthcare for paid direct postdocs, childcare subsidies, and appointment/reappointments. While we’ve made progress on some areas we still are receiving proposals from the UW Administration that would place us far behind our peer institutions on priority areas like Postdoc compensation. Next Monday, Jan 25, is the last scheduled bargaining session before our contract expires on January 31st.
Please attend a membership meeting this Friday (1/22) at 4:00 pm (RSVP form) to review where we currently stand with bargaining and give your input for what a satisfactory contract would look like. Remember: any proposal by UW must be approved by a vote of Postdoc union members so your participation is critical in determining the outcomes of bargaining. To date, strong progress in bargaining has come from membership organization and engagement, so we encourage all members to attend this important discussion.
- Wages: After two months at the bargaining table, UW Admin offered a proposal on wages that is still far below our peer institutions and wouldn’t go into effect until July of 2022. In March 2020, we voluntarily agreed not to reopen our contract after the NIH payscale had increased, due to the pandemic and its impact on the economy. Management’s proposal today would require us to forgo any increases to our minimum salary scale for another 18 months. This means three years will have passed between establishing our minimum scale and the first increase to this scale. Knowing that many peer institutions use the NIH scale as a minimum (and the Postdoc union at the University of California negotiated a minimum wage equal to Year 2 of experience on the NIH scale) we have continued to advocate using the NIH payscale as a reference. UW Admin said today that they were uncomfortable because they think the NIH scale is unpredictable and illogical. They also misrepresented recent contract negotiations of other campus employees by stating that no other class of employees across campus has received a wage increase during the pandemic, which is false. Admin argued that any raises for other employees were necessary to keep up with market rates—but they seem to have no issue letting our wages fall farther behind those of postdocs at other R1 universities. We countered by citing that our wages are falling even further behind our peers, reminding them that we were willing to forgo salary increases at the beginning of the pandemic, that our work directly results in funding increases for the university, and that fair wages are crucial to improving equity in academia. You can see the full text of our proposals here.
- Healthcare for Paid Direct Postdocs: UW Admin continued to make positive movement on this issue by proposing $350/month for paid-direct postdocs to offset the costs of purchasing insurance. We explained how this proposal is a good step but still insufficient to meet the needs of paid-direct postdocs—especially those with higher insurance-related costs due to visa requirements or providing for dependents. To put it simply: $350/month is not sufficient to offset the cost of purchasing insurance comparable to PEBB. Our counter-proposal increases the monthly stipend provided to paid-direct Postdocs to offset the cost of healthcare, and creates a supplementary stipend for dependents. You can see the full text of our proposals here.
- Childcare: UW Admin proposed no increase in our established childcare fund for 2021, and an increase to $42,000 for 2022, with biannual disbursements. The shift to biannual disbursements will provide needed relief, but we recognize that Postdoc caregivers need more support. We noted that we were pleased to see UW Administration respond to our calls for additional COVID-related childcare resources through the UW Employee Emergency relief fund, but also that additional funds this year were still necessary to counter the massive need. We therefore countered by proposing a $50,000 fund for 2021 and $65,000 fund for 2022, with biannual disbursements. Please contact the Family Friendly Workgroup for more information or help with the existing resources.
- Titles and Classifications: We agreed to the UW Admin’s proposal to maintain the current 5-year appointment limits for postdocs, while reiterating our commitment to get extensions for postdocs whose research has been disrupted by the pandemic. We also passed language changing the time limit for the Postdoctoral Scholar-Interim job title to ensure that those individuals are eligible for PEBB health insurance.
Don’t forget to RSVP here for the membership meeting this Friday (1/22 @ 4pm) to learn more and give your input before our last scheduled bargaining session. For a full list of current bargaining proposals and the bargaining updates archive, please visit our Postdoc Bargaining Center. A reminder that all postdoc members are welcome at the bargaining table – to learn more about the bargaining process and get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UAW 4121 Postdoc Bargaining Committee
Tanya Brown, Biology
Leandro Casiraghi, Biology
Amanda Clouser, Medicinal Chemistry
Max Friedfeld, Chemistry
Colleen Hoffman, Oceanography
Tim Mackie, Pharmacology
Kim Meier, Psychology
Erin Morgan, Epidemiology
Elena Pandres, Chemical Engineering