Feb 172021
 
 February 17, 2021
UAW 4121
We’ve reached a tentative agreement on the Postdoc Collective bargaining agreement! Our bargaining committee unanimously recommends acceptance of the tentative agreement and a vote to ratify. Through our contract we’ve secured some important gains and set the foundation for continued improvements in the future. While more work remains, this CBA helps us reach our goal of creating more equitable working conditions for Postdocs at UW: in particular for some of the most vulnerable.

Now, for the CBA to become effective the Postdoc membership must vote to determine whether to ratify the contract. The vote will run from Monday Feb 22nd through Monday March 1st. The ballots will be provided electronically and anonymously via Surveymonkey and Mailchimp. We encourage Postdocs to vote Yes now to avoid any additional delay in implementing proposed changes (described below). Information sessions to discuss the contract and the ratification process will be taking place on Wednesday 2/17 at 4pm, Thursday 2/18 at 9am and 5pm, and Friday 2/19 at 12pm and 5pm. Please RSVP here for zoom info.

Over the past four months we have made significant progress and have won several improvements. Some highlights are listed here and a full list of TAs can be found on the Bargaining Portal:

  1. Wages: In the face of a difficult economic situation due to the covid pandemic, we’ve secured significant range adjustments to the Postdoc wage scale in line with recently updated NIH guidelines. Starting July 1st, 2021, any new Postdoc appointments and reappointments will be paid according to the 2021 NIH NRSA payscale. Continuing Postdocs paid on the current CBA scale will receive a 2% pay increase if their one-year anniversary date falls before July 1, 2021 and will be moved to the next experience level step on the 2021 payscale if their anniversary date falls after July 1, 2021. This will result in raises of an average of 9.4% for Postdocs currently on the wage scale. As such this Article will provide for significant raises for Postdocs paid at the lowest levels. For Postdocs above the payscale, raises will be discretionary. While UW administration would not agree to across-the-board guaranteed increases (consistent with policies for faculty, professional/classified staff, custodians and other campus employees) our contract does not prevent Postdocs from being paid at levels higher than the minimum payscale, or from organizing at the department or college level for increases.
  1. Expanding the EPIC program. The EPIC program has been highly successful in creating systems for preventing sexual harassment and gender discrimination and helping Postdocs better access resources and support for intervention so that we can create a more equitable workplace environment. In this contract we were able to not only continue support for the program but have secured additional funding to increase the number of paid Postdoc positions to sustain this program.
  2. New healthcare stipend for paid-direct Postdocs. Until now, paid-direct Postdocs – many of them working on visas – were responsible for providing their own health insurance unless their grant specifically dedicated funds for these costs. After over a year of activism and organizing, we negotiated a monthly stipend of $500 to eligible Postdocs to help cover the cost of purchasing their own insurance. These funds would become available 90 days after ratification of this agreement.
  3. Expanded Childcare fund. Last autumn, we successfully dispersed $30,000 Postdoc caregiver. In our current negotiations, UW Admin agreed to increase the fund to a total of $45,000 in 2021 and $50,000 in 2022. Upon ratification, these funds will now be dispersed twice each year allowing us to be more flexible in meeting the needs of Postdoc parents.
  1. Prevented rollbacks in layoff protections. During the bargaining process, UW admin proposed to shorten layoff notices from sixty days to thirty days and proposed that any postdocs facing dismissal receive only five days notice. We were able to maintain the current language which gives postdocs sixty days notice to find new employment in the event of a layoff and requires thirty days notice for dismissal—time that is crucial for the due process to take place in the event of unjust termination. Maintaining our original contract language provides more certainty for Postdocs.

More details on these changes and other maintained provisions (such as the continuation of the free U-PASS) are available on our Bargaining Portal website.

These changes will only become effective if Postdocs vote Yes to ratify the CBA. The ratification vote will take place from Monday 2/22 at 9am to Monday 3/1 at 5pm. The ballots will be provided electronically and anonymously via Surveymonkey and Mailchimp.

If the vote is in favor of ratification, the new contract will go into effect. If members vote against ratification, then we will continue bargaining over the contract and many of the wins we’ve achieved will be back on the bargaining table. Please don’t hesitate to write to the bargaining committee with questions or concerns, or attend one of our upcoming information sessions (RSVP here for zoom info).

Sincerely,
UW Postdocs United / UAW 4121 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