Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Last week, after officially adding postdocs from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to the "...

An update:
To their credit, from the outset of bargaining, UC administrators expressed a shared commitment to giving postdocs a rapid, fair and just process for sexual harassment and discrimination claims. I’m proud to report we have signed off on a set of important and transformative changes.
With this new agreement, there will be significantly fewer obstacles to achieving justice and preserving the careers of survivors. These improvements include strict time limits for UC investigators to deliver an initial assessment and a comprehensive report. In the past, postdocs who courageously came forward saw their cases languish for months without resolution, which further eroded trust in the complaint process. Swift resolutions are especially important for postdocs, as our temporary positions last five or six years at most.
When postdocs report a claim, the new contract will ensure their research and career progress are not derailed, as was often the case previously. This takes into account the extremely vulnerable situation of postdocs – especially when reporting cases of faculty misconduct – and guarantees they will be able to continue research in a harassment- and discrimination-free environment.
Other changes include expanding the definition of protected classes to include gender identity and expression and a strong statement that all forms of retaliation are prohibited. We also agreed to jointly develop training for postdocs on identifying and reporting harassment and discrimination that reflects our uniquely vulnerable position within the research structure of the university.
A key point is that these reforms – a sea change in protections for postdocs from sexual harassment – came through collective bargaining. There is no question that working together to reach agreement on this issue of mutual interest and importance led to a decisively more effective and well thought out policy."

Postdoctoral Union Continues Contract Bargaining with UC



The union representing over 6,000 University of California postdoctoral researchers, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 5810, voted earlier this month to authorize its bargaining team to strike “if circumstances justify.” Last week, after officially adding postdocs from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to the union, the bargaining team spent three days in Oakland with UC management and reached a series of tentative agreements leading up to the expiration of their contract on Sep. 30.

UAW Local 5810, which bargains with UC on behalf of its unionized postdocs, including more than 350 at UC Irvine, claims that UC has been unresponsive in the union’s requests for information and delayed the bargaining process for more than two months. In addition, the union complains that UC sent representatives to the table without the authority to bargain, and refused to honor previously-made agreements regarding the process for bargaining over postdocs’ health benefits.

On Sep. 1, in response to these complaints, UAW Local 5810 announced that an enthusiastic internal vote of 96.6 percent had authorized their bargaining team to strike if their grievances continue. Of the 3,590 union members who cast a ballot, 3,468 voted to authorize the strike.

According to UAW Local 5810 president Anke Schennink, the union is still attempting to negotiate a contract with UC before their current contract ends.

“This wave of postdoc participation — a majority of all postdocs — sends a message that postdocs are paying attention to what happens at the bargaining table,” said Schennink. “Postdoc work is incredibly valuable to UC and society more broadly. We encourage UC to bargain in good faith and work with the union to reach a mutually satisfactory contract by the time the current agreement expires.”

Proposed changes to the current contract include raising postdocs’ starting salary from $47,500 to $51,000 plus an annual cost of living adjustment, and granting postdocs a $600 per month child care subsidy plus 8 weeks of paid parental leave, as they currently receive no family-based subsidy or leave.


UAW Local 5810 will bargain on Sept. 21 and 22 in Oakland, and Sept. 23 at their union office in Berkeley. The union and UC are scheduled to bargain for eight more days before their current contract expires.

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