January 30, 2023

Bargaining Update

We continue to make progress toward reaching an agreement with UW Admin, reaching tentative agreement on 1/30 on a Reasonable Accommodations article that strengthens the protections available to Postdocs with disabilities seeking accommodations. This brings us into alignment on almost every contract article prior to the expiration of our current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on 1/31/23. We proposed an additional bargaining session on 1/31, and while UW agreed that it is in everyone’s best interests to reach agreement prior to CBA expiration, they did not agree to meet again until 2/10/23. So now our CBA has expired, due primarily to UW’s recent reversal on Admin’s position of Postdoc overtime eligibility combined with their choice not to provide us with information about the rationale for that reversal or any real plan for how hours tracking for Postdocs would work, if necessary, in 2024 and beyond. (See the Strike Authorization Vote FAQ for more info about what it means for the CBA to expire.)

UW’s wage proposal would disadvantage Postdocs that accept prestigious fellowships (even though taking those fellowships SAVES the university money!), and is likely to result in hours tracking for nearly all Postdocs with absolutely no clarity about how such a system would even work. Our proposal ensures Postdocs are paid a living wage, creates more wage stability for Postdocs, decreases budget uncertainty for research groups, eliminates the unnecessary administrative burden of hours tracking, keeps Postdocs in control of our own time, avoids the need for supervisors and Postdocs to micro-manage time, is better for research, and actually even costs UW less overall. UW’s intransigence on these last couple of articles makes absolutely no sense, delays bargaining by making it unclear what we are being asked to agree to, and has the effect of pushing our contract past expiration. 

We’re taking a Strike Authorization Vote.

On Monday, hundreds of UW RSEs and Postdocs gathered in rooms, labs, and lecture halls across and off campus and made the decision that each of our bargaining units will hold Strike Authorization Votes (SAV) from February 6-16th.

You might be wondering what this means, so here are some Strike Authorization Vote basics:

  • An SAV will authorize the Postdoc bargaining committee to call a strike if circumstances warrant.
  • A 2/3 majority of those voting is required for the bargaining committee to be able to call a strike. 
  • It is a standard process within the union to ensure that this step is taken with full participation and approval from the bargaining unit before we consider calling a strike.
  • An SAV does not necessarily mean that we will strike.
  • For additional details and questions about the SAV, please see this FAQ.

Why are we taking a Strike Authorization Vote now and what do we want to achieve?

It’s clear that the only way to move UW to bargain fairly and transparently so that we can reach a suitable agreement is a strong demonstration from Postdocs that we stand together in demanding that UW:

  • Pay Postdocs a living wage.
  • Prevent pay inequity and minimize penalties for taking fellowships.
  • Ensure a clear understanding of how Postdoc wages and overtime exempt status will work in later years of the contract.

We need your help

If you didn’t already do so, please take a moment to pledge that you will cast your ballot in our upcoming Strike Authorization Vote on the first day of the vote. You will also see on that form that we are asking each person to commit to doing at least one piece of outreach. This could include signing up for an hour of phone banking/canvassing, or requesting contact info to hold a meeting with PDs in your department. Let us know what you can do and an organizer will follow up with you with all the needed materials.

Please take 30 seconds and respond to this pledge now so that we can focus our outreach efforts where they are most needed during the coming weeks.

If you’ve got questions about our SAV, please take a look at our FAQ and if you’ve still got questions, please reach out. 

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