Feb 102021
 
 February 10, 2021
UAW 4121

Since our last bargaining session, we have important news and positive progress toward reaching an agreement. The UW Administration has indicated that they are now seriously considering agreeing to our proposal to move to the newest 2021 NIH NRSA salary guidelines – which were only released on Jan 27. UW Admin will agree to apply this new payscale to new appointments, reappointments, and anniversary dates, instead of moving every Postdoc to the new scale at once. This means that while our year-to-year wages would increase significantly, the wage increases would be prospective: phased in on reappointments (see details below), or applied to newly hired Postdocs.

We are cautiously optimistic that the UW administration will reach an agreement with us in the coming days. Once we reach a Tentative Agreement on the final articles, members will need to vote to determine whether the contract is ratified. We will notify you of any updates as soon as we hear from them. In the meantime, we will be meeting on Friday at 5pm (please RSVP for zoom info) to discuss these developments and the ratification process, and to answer your questions.

Wage Article Proposal 

The Wage article proposal that is currently with UW Admin is summarized below.

  • Our current Wages article would remain in effect until June 30, 2021. Minimum salaries for UW Postdocs will be maintained at the current level, and Postdocs paid above these minimums will continue to be guaranteed no less than a 2% raise upon reappointment or anniversary.
  • Beginning July 1, 2021, the NIH NRSA 2021 minimum salary scale will apply for all new Postdoc appointments, reappointments and anniversary dates. Raises for Postdocs paid above the minimum new scale will now be at the University’s discretion. However, nothing in the contract prohibits departments from providing raises at any point to Postdocs.
  • We can reopen bargaining over annual increases for Postdocs paid above the minimum scale who have not received any increases if UW implements merit increases to professional staff wages after July 1, 2021.
  • We have the right to reopen bargaining regarding the minimum scale in our collective bargaining agreement if the NIH NRSA scale is updated after July 1st, 2021.

While we are disappointed that UW Admin refused to enshrine a link between the NIH scale and our minimum salaries in this contract or provide guaranteed increases to Postdocs paid above scale, we’re very pleased that the new minimums in our CBA would become substantially higher. For example, the salary for Postdocs who are newly appointed to their first Postdoc position would increase 7.5% from the current level ($50,004 to $53,760). Postdocs paid on the minimum scale now will receive an average raise of 9.4% upon reappointment. We also expect that Postdocs paid above the scale will continue to receive increases, even if they aren’t mandated in the CBA. This progress is a direct result of sustained activism around improving postdoc wages, including the letter that a majority of Postdocs co-signed, calling on the Administration to match the NIH NRSA scale last year.

Our initial bargaining demands that hundreds of Postdocs adopted last fall are oriented toward improving equity in UW academic research. When combined with other gains (below) this wage proposal would continue to make progress in supporting vulnerable Postdocs and improving equity:

  • Article 5 Childcare: The UW admin will expand the Childcare fund to $45,000 in 2021, and $50,000 in 2022. The fund will be administered semiannually to better support Postdoc caregivers. The fund was previously $30,000, disbursed once in December.
  • New MOU Postdoctoral Scholars Paid-Direct: The UW will supply a $500/month benefit to paid-direct postdocs who don’t receive a healthcare stipend to cover personal expenses such as healthcare, effective 90 days after contract ratification. This is a phenomenal win for dozens of Postdocs, often international scholars, who have been refused health insurance – and a direct result of the actions taken by you and the majority of our members
  • MOU EPIC Training: The UW admin will hire more Postdoc EPIC (Empowering Prevention & Inclusive Communities) trainers to expand the anti-sexual harassment/discrimination program. If there are additional funds, the administration will work with us to administer the funds to support the EPIC training program.
  • MOU Transportation: All Postdocs will continue to receive a free U-PASS for the life of the contract.
  • Article 34 Duration: The Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect until January 31st, 2023.

These terms have been bargained amidst the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and state budget shortfalls. We know many other campus employees are facing 0% wage increases, furloughs, and even layoffs. In this context, we feel these terms represent a very positive step for Postdocs, even though we fully acknowledge that more work is necessary to achieve terms Postdocs need and deserve. We are committed to continue building power and taking collective action to secure more protections and benefits in the future. 

Please RSVP for our next Postdoc Bargaining Update meeting on Friday at 5pm. For a full list of current bargaining proposals and the bargaining updates archive, please visit our Postdoc Bargaining Center. To learn more about the bargaining process and get involved, please email uaw4121@uaw4121.org.

Membership Meeting Thursday 2/11 at 5pm 

As a reminder, our next union-wide Monthly Membership Meeting will be tomorrow, Thursday 2/11 from 5-6pm via Zoom. To access the link and/or call-in number, please fill out this short form. All members in good standing are encouraged to attend, and anyone who is not yet a member can sign up here beforehand. Everyone is encouraged to login five minutes earlier to help expedite the check-in process. If you have any specific concerns or accessibility needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out at uaw4121@uaw4121.org.

In Solidarity,

UAW 4121 Postdoc Bargaining Committee
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