Bargaining Updates 2015

Dec 042015
 

Check out this great Nature Article outlining the improvements won in our new contract. Read the full piece below, a PDF version here, or log on to the Nature website.

 
California Postdocs Win New Rights
Nature, December 3 2015
By Helen Shen

Following recommendations from august US groups including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, some universities are initiating policies to give postdoctoral researchers more time and latitude for career exploration.

A contract between the University of California (UC) and its postdoc labour union gives postdocs across the ten-campus system the right to pursue career-development activities on paid time. “That’s a pretty big milestone,” says Belinda Huang, executive director of the US National Postdoctoral Association in Washington DC. “UC is being very explicit here, where other universities have not necessarily been explicit.”

The agreement, which follows months of negotiation and covers the university’s roughly 6,500 postdocs, took effect on 1 November, and will last until 30 September 2016. It also includes new employment protections for international postdocs and establishes a committee to consider financial assistance for
child-care expenses.

The university’s move echoes national-level support for such activities. In 2014, the White House Office of Management and Budget stated that it recognizes the ‘dual role’ of postdocs as both employees and trainees and that it expects them to be “actively engaged in their training and career development” while conducting research supported by government grants.

 
Time Troubles

But it remains to be seen whether these measures will spur greater day-to-day participation in the courses, mentoring programmes and other career-exploration resources that already exist at many US universities, including the UC. For UC postdocs who had previously skipped such programmes because of pressure to focus on a conventional academic career, the new contract could provide an encouraging nudge.
For others, however, even contract-enshrined ‘permission’ may not be enough. “The truth is, I don’t have time to do all of these activities,” says neuroscientist Wan-Yu Hsu, a postdoc at UC San Francisco. Hsu says that the drive to produce results and to publish will probably keep her from pursuing career-development activities during the workday.

The contract also addresses immigration issues. Specifically, it offers added protections for international postdocs who get fired. The university already has a grievance process for postdocs to contest terminations. But under US immigration law, many international postdocs must return to their home countries immediately on termination, leaving them to argue their cases from afar.

The UC agreement states that if the grievance process cannot be resolved at an earlier point, and the postdoc has had to leave the country, the university will help to sponsor a travel visa for the postdoc to return to the United States to participate in their final arbitration hearing. If the postdoc is successful in their case, the university will reimburse the travel costs. If he or she is not successful, the union will foot the bill.

Roughly two-thirds of UC postdocs come from outside the United States, but terminations are rare, and those that are not resolved before arbitration are even rarer, says Anke Schennink, president of the postdoc union. Nevertheless, the provision adds a measure of security, she says.

One of the outstanding issues in the contract is whether and how the university will help with child-care costs. A handful of institutions — including Stanford University in California, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and Princeton University in New Jersey — offer subsidies or discounts for child care. But the expenses remain a serious issue for many others across the country, and contribute to women leaving the scientific workforce, says Huang.

The postdoc union had pushed for the creation of a financial-assistance programme to help postdocs with child-care expenses — the university already offers the benefit to graduate students — but the two parties could not agree on terms. Instead, the university and union have agreed to form a committee to discuss the issue in the coming year. “We’re hoping to make more progress in the next round,” says Schennink.

Oct 282015
 

We’re pleased to announce that the new contract was ratified by a vote of 3471 to 42, a 98.8% margin. The new contract goes into effect as of November 1, 2015 and will expire on September 30, 2016. You can read highlights of the contract here and the full contract language here.

This contract represents a significant victory for the rights and working conditions of UC postdocs but we are dedicated to keep fighting for further improvements. As more details on the Obama administration’s new overtime rules are expected next year, and new contract negotiations will begin next summer, we are already planning our strategy. Without a doubt, postdoc involvement is the key to making major gains in 2016. Email us at uaw5810@uaw5810.org if you’d like to help.

Thank you for all your hard work over the course of this negotiation and we look forward to working together to build on our success in the coming months!

Sincerely,

Anke Schennink, Ph.D., President, UC Davis
Neal Sweeney, Ph.D., Vice President, UC Santa Cruz
Stephanie Wolahan, Ph.D., Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Ben Cain, Ph.D., Financial Secretary, UC Davis
Sahar Houshdaran, Ph.D., Trustee, UC San Francisco
Yijin Wang, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Santa Barbara
Kristen Yankura, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Los Angeles
Jessica Budke, Ph.D., Sergeant-At-Arms, UC Davis
Alex Hoepker, Ph.D., Guide, UC Berkeley

Oct 092015
 

We are pleased to announce that today we have reached a tentative agreement with the University of California on a new one-year contract until September 30th, 2016. The new contract improves conditions for postdocs in key areas and maintains our hard-fought rights. As your bargaining committee we encourage you to vote to ratify the contract during our ratification vote starting on Monday, October 19th and continuing through Tuesday, October 27th.

Below are the contract highlights and ratification information. You can read the complete language of the contract here.

Guaranteed Annual Raises: Postdocs’ minimum salaries will continue to be linked to the NIH/NRSA pay scale – which over the past five years has resulted in an average 6% raise per year for postdocs on the scale. All postdocs who are above scale, including Paid Directs and Fellows, will receive at least a 2% raise per year. We fought off UC’s attempts to impose many different kinds of wage cuts.

Improved Health Benefits at a Lower Cost: Medical plans will now have preventative care and contraception coverage without co-pays, dental benefits will improve and there will be a new supplemental life insurance option. Monthly costs for the medical HMO plan for 2016 will decrease by 4% (rates will be less than $10/month for individual HMO coverage or about $45/month for family HMO coverage), and medical PPO rates will remain frozen at the same level since 2013 ($20-60, depending on the number of dependents), and all dental and vision coverage will still be free. For full details of the new benefits and costs, see here.

New Protections for International Postdocs: After a long fight, we won protections to ensure that international postdocs facing termination can defend themselves, including the requirement that UC assist with visas and travel costs to testify in an arbitration hearing.

Improved Family-Friendly Benefits: The union and UC will form a Family-Friendly Committee that will meet at least two times in the next year with the express purpose of designing a childcare reimbursement program for UC postdocs. Use of Sick Leave will be expanded to include taking care of family members and number of Personal Time Off and Sick Leave days will remain the same.

More Rights for Career Development: Postdocs won the right to participate in career development activities on paid time and UC will be obligated to fund these career activities (such as travel to conferences) that are outlined in your Individual Development Plan (IDP). We also won the right to have multiple career mentors in developing an IDP.

1 Year Duration: More frequent bargaining equals more workplace democracy by giving future postdocs the power to negotiate over their rights and working conditions.

No Concessions: Other areas of the contract, including job security, are all the same or better than our previous contract. In particular, we maintained 1 year minimum appointments and defeated UC proposals which would have severely degraded job security in a number of ways, including allowing UC to end a postdoc’s employment for being stuck out of the country for visa renewal, for being sick, or for no reason at all during a probationary period.

How to Vote
On Monday, October 19th you will receive via e-mail a ballot to vote online – simply follow the link contained in the message body. To locate the email search for the phrase #5810Ratify. Each link is unique and should only be used by the person receiving the e-mail.

If you do not receive an online ballot or have other technical difficulties, please e-mail vote@uaw5810.org. General questions can be sent to uaw5810@uaw5810.org.

Alternatively, you can vote in person on Monday, October 19th and on Tuesday, October 27th. Please check below for your campus voting location and times:

Berkeley
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | in front of Stanley Hall
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | in front of Li Ka Shing

San Francisco
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the plaza outside of Peasant Pies (Mission Bay)
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Saunders Court (Parnassus)

Davis
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the northside of the Silo
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the northside of the Silo

Merced
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the courtyard outside the Lantern Café
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the courtyard outside the Lantern Café

Santa Cruz
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | between the Science and Engineering Library and Natural Sciences 2
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | between the Science and Engineering Library and Natural Sciences 2

Santa Barbara
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Nano Café
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Nano Café

Los Angeles
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the Court of Sciences in front of Young Hall
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the Court of Sciences in front of Young Hall

Irvine
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | on Ring Road, in front of Frederick Reines Hall (FRH)
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | on Ring Road, in front of Frederick Reines Hall (FRH)

Riverside
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Webber Hall, outside the west entrance
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Webber Hall, outside the west entrance

San Diego
10/19: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Leichtag, main entrance next to the coffee cart
10/27: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Leichtag, main entrance next to the coffee cart

Thank you for all of your hard work to make this tentative agreement possible! We look forward to your participation in the contract ratification vote.

Sincerely,

Anke Schennink, Ph.D., President, UC Davis
Neal Sweeney, Ph.D., Vice President, UC Santa Cruz
Stephanie Wolahan, Ph.D., Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Ben Cain, Ph.D., Financial Secretary, UC Davis
Sahar Houshdaran, Ph.D., Trustee, UC San Francisco
Yijin Wang, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Santa Barbara
Kristen Yankura, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Los Angeles
Jessica Budke, Ph.D., Sergeant-At-Arms, UC Davis
Alex Hoepker, Ph.D., Guide, UC Berkeley

Oct 012015
 

We bargained late into the night during the last three days at UC Office of the President in Oakland as the clock ticked down to our contract expiration at midnight on September 30th. We have made important progress and have decided it would be best to extend the contract until October 9th in order to maintain postdoc rights while we continue to work towards an agreement.

In light of the progress made, we have also decided to postpone the strike authorization vote that was scheduled to begin today, October 1st.

Once we reach a tentative agreement, all union members will have the opportunity to read the entire agreement and vote on ratifying the contract.

Your Bargaining Team,

Anke Schennink, Ph.D., President, UC Davis
Neal Sweeney, Ph.D., Vice President, UC Santa Cruz
Stephanie Wolahan, Ph.D., Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Ben Cain, Ph.D., Financial Secretary, UC Davis
Sahar Houshdaran, Ph.D., Trustee, UC San Francisco
Yijin Wang, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Santa Barbara
Kristen Yankura, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Los Angeles
Jessica Budke, Ph.D., Sergeant-At-Arms, UC Davis
Alex Hoepker, Ph.D., Guide, UC Berkeley

Sep 302015
 


* Postponed *
Please read here for details.



Starting Thursday, October 1st and continuing through Friday, October 9th, postdocs statewide will have the opportunity to vote to give our bargaining team the ability to call an unfair labor practices strike should circumstances justify.

We strongly encourage all postdocs to vote “yes”. We continue to work for an agreement, but with its bad faith bargaining – including failing to send people to the table with the authority to bargain, failure to provide necessary and relevant information, and regressive bargaining – the UC continues to stand in the way.

A strike vote does not mean that we will go on strike nor that postdocs will be forced to strike should one be called, but it is critical for the bargaining team to have the ability to call a strike should circumstances justify.

On Thursday October 1st you will receive via e-mail a ballot to vote online – simply follow the link contained in the message body. Each link is unique and should only be used by the person receiving the e-mail.

If you do not receive an online ballot or have other technical difficulties, please e-mail vote@uaw5810.org. General questions can be sent to uaw5810@uaw5810.org.

Alternatively, you can vote in person on Thursday, October 1st and on Friday, October 9th. Please check below for your campus voting location and times:

Berkeley
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | in front of Stanley Hall
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | in front of Li Ka Shing

San Francisco
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the plaza outside of Peasant Pies (Mission Bay)
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Saunders Court (Parnassus)

Davis
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the northside of the Silo
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the northside of the Silo

Merced
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the courtyard outside the Lantern Café
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the courtyard outside the Lantern Café

Santa Cruz
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | between the Science and Engineering Library and Natural Sciences 2
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | between the Science and Engineering Library and Natural Sciences 2

Santa Barbara
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Nano Café
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Nano Café

Los Angeles
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the Court of Sciences in front of Young Hall
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at the Court of Sciences in front of Young Hall

Irvine
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | on Ring Road, in front of Frederick Reines Hall (FRH)
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | on Ring Road, in front of Frederick Reines Hall (FRH)

Riverside
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Webber Hall, outside the west entrance
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Webber Hall, outside the west entrance

San Diego
10/1: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Leichtag, entrance next to the coffee cart
10/9: 12 pm – 1 pm | at Leichtag, entrance next to the coffee cart

Please join in voting yes to give our bargaining team the ability to call an unfair labor practices strike should circumstances justify!

Sincerely,

Anke Schennink, Ph.D., President, UC Davis
Neal Sweeney, Ph.D., Vice President, UC Santa Cruz
Stephanie Wolahan, Ph.D., Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Ben Cain, Ph.D., Financial Secretary, UC Davis
Sahar Houshdaran, Ph.D., Trustee, UC San Francisco
Yijin Wang, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Santa Barbara
Kristen Yankura, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Los Angeles
Jessica Budke, Ph.D., Sergeant-At-Arms, UC Davis
Alex Hoepker, Ph.D., Guide, UC Berkeley

Sep 282015
 

Bargaining continued last week in Riverside from Sept. 24th – Sept. 25th. While we continue to work towards an agreement, we are still waiting for the University to offer a new package on key economic issues – including wages, childcare, and healthcare.

BTeam12

The University proposed imposing bureaucratic rules and procedures on postdocs which would require timesheets or punching a clock in order to receive fair pay. Our proposal on wages would phase in wage increases to increase every postdoc’s annual salary to at least $50,440 – a salary that external agencies like the Department of Labor and the National Academy of Sciences say is necessary for compensating the professional work that postdocs perform – without the need for timesheets or other bureaucratic oversight to receive fair pay.

We also proposed that healthcare contributions will remain stable from year to year and that all plan contributions will be less than $60. We continued to propose childcare benefits which would improve gender equity and make UC a truly family friendly place.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Thursday’s action by calling University administrators and pushing them to support President Obama’s new overtime regulations. The message to UC was heard loud and clear.

Your bargaining team,

Anke Schennink, Ph.D., President, UC Davis
Neal Sweeney, Ph.D., Vice President, UC Santa Cruz
Stephanie Wolahan, Ph.D., Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Ben Cain, Ph.D., Financial Secretary, UC Davis
SaharHoushdaran, Ph.D., Trustee, UC San Francisco
Yijin Wang, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Santa Barbara
Kristen Yankura, Ph.D., Trustee, UC Los Angeles
Jessica Budke, Ph.D., Sergeant-At-Arms, UC Davis
Alex Hoepker, Ph.D., Guide, UC Berkeley

Sep 282015
 

On Sept. 18th, the UAW 5810 formally charged UC with not meeting its obligation to bargain in good faith under California law, by filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the Public Employee Relations Board. Specifically:

  • Sending representatives without the authority to bargain.
  • Making a proposal, then later withdrawing it and replacing it with a worse proposal (regressive bargaining).
  • Not providing the union with necessary and relevant information to bargain the contract effectively.

Given UC’s continued pattern of unlawful bargaining behavior, it is necessary that we take all possible steps to get UC to bargain in good faith so that we can reach agreement on a new contract.