UW POSTDOCS RALLIED TO DEMAND THE UW ADMINISTRATION STOPS DENYING HEALTHCARE TO POSTDOCS
A large delegation of Postdocs demanded the Administration change a policy that denies health insurance coverage to many postdocs in a physically distanced rally outside of UW HR
Postdocs rallied at the University of Washington Friday morning on behalf of the majority of their colleagues who have demanded the University administration provide health insurance for ALL Postdocs. The rally brought together approximately 75 Postdocs and supporters for a picket line and chants outside of the UW HR offices. Speakers at the rally included Postdocs who were affected by this punitive policy. Community leaders that joined the rally include Washington State Representative Frank Chopp and Adam Ziemkowski, a staff member for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
Healthcare is a human right. Never has that been clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Washington administration has refused to change a policy that prevents Postdoctoral Scholars who are paid via externally funded grants from accessing our union-negotiated health insurance. This punitive policy impacts 40-60 Postdocs every year, the vast majority of which are international visa-holders. International Students and Scholars have been targeted in recent months by federal policies designed to make travel and work at U.S. universities increasingly difficult and this health insurance policy exacerbates this problem. Our union is working to challenge several of these policies to ensure that UW remains a global institution, welcoming and supportive of all regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
In 2018, UW Postdocs voted overwhelmingly to form a union (UAW 4121) and fought to include all Postdocs, regardless of their funding grants and mechanisms. Later, Postdocs voted overwhelmingly to adopt a collective bargaining agreement that ensured access to employer-sponsored health insurance for all Postdocs. But the UW HR administration has consistently prevented Postdocs who are paid through direct-funding mechanisms (paid-direct Postdocs) from accessing the same insurance as other Postdocs. We have filed a grievance on this issue, but the UW administration hasn’t acted. We have appealed this policy to the Healthcare Authority, which ruled that the University has sole discretion over which employees are eligible for insurance. And yet, the administration still hasn’t changed their position, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Former UW Postdocs Jessica Arbour and Marina Dütsch have published their experiences in dealing with this punitive, discriminatory policy.