Oct 012020
 October 1, 2020


A large delegation of Postdocs will demand the Administration change a policy that denies health insurance coverage to many postdocs in a physically distanced rally outside of UW HR

WHERE:      Roosevelt Commons West (4300 Roosevelt Ave NE)

WHEN:         Friday, October 2nd, 2020 at 9:00am

WHO: Postdocs at the University of Washington on behalf of the majority of their colleagues who have demanded the University administration provides health insurance for ALL Postdocs.

WHY: 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.

BACKGROUND: 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. “When my paid-direct award went into effect, I suddenly lost my UW health and dental insurance, resulting in significant difficulties and great expenses for me. In essentially every aspect of my research and work, nothing had changed, except I had secured independent research funding, which was not only a boon to the research group and the school, but also an important milestone for postdocs and other early career researchers,” said Albert Ryou, UW Postdoc. “This arbitrary and hostile UW policy regarding employee eligibility disproportionately impacts international scholars and it must be changed without delay.” Former UW Postdocs Jessica Arbour and Marina Dütsch have published their experiences in dealing with this punitive, discriminatory policy.

Learn more at: https://www.uaw4121.org/campaigns/health-care-for-international-uw-postdocs/