This past weekend postdoc union members from all across the state convened in Berkeley for our first annual union-wide membership meeting. Thank you to all the members who took time out of their busy schedules to come out to the meeting! We had a day full of interesting discussion and debate, and determined the priorities that will guide the union’s efforts over the next year.
The meeting was focused around the issues most affecting postdocs. Cati Brown-Johnson, a postdoc at UCSF, presented a letter from herself and several colleagues outlining their vision of what is needed in the short and long term to improve childcare for postdocs with families. Financial Secretary Maria Chen presented a report on the union’s 2011 finances and led a discussion on the budget for 2012 and beyond. Each of the existing working groups (Career Development, Child Care & Leaves, Communications, Political Advocacy, and Visa & Immigration) gave a report on their work for the past year, and as a group we decided on goals for the upcoming year. We also formed a new working group which will begin building a plan for bargaining our next contract in 2015. We then broke into small-group discussions, one for each working group, to develop a plan for that working group over the next year. These plans include:
Career Development: Adding a guide to career development rights and resources to the website, surveying postdocs for feedback on effective career-building resources, beginning to develop web-based and on-campus career seminars including non-academic career paths, building a database of UAW 5810 alumni who can be a support network for postdocs seeking jobs.
Child Care & Leaves: Educating postdocs and PIs about the rights and benefits that postdocs currently have regarding maternity and family leaves, building more online resources through the union website for postdoc child care options, advocating for additional family-related benefits (such as access to existing programs, additional leave time, child care reimbursement, etc.) to reduce the financial burden on postdocs.
Communications: Developing a package of printable online resources for new postdocs to inform them of their rights and benefits, developing a flyer to aid on-the-ground organizing and to explain the importance of the union and union membership, coordinating content from each of the other working groups to effectively convey this information to postdocs via the website, Facebook, etc.
Political Advocacy: Framing the discussion about science funding for politicians and policy makers to emphasize its importance to society, continuing to build support for fair tax policies that will fund education and research, advocating for reform to the visa/immigration system both for postdocs and for the larger population of non-US-citizens working in the US, advocating for larger federal science research budgets.
Visa & Immigration: Constructing a guide to the various visas and their rules, communicating to non-US-citizen postdocs about their rights, organizing seminars with immigration law firms to educate postdocs about visa and immigration issues.
Bargaining & Planning: Determining the improvements that postdocs would like to see in the next contract and prioritizing them, identifying ways to strengthen our bargaining position.
The working group plans were amended and ratified by the whole of the membership present.
As always with the union, your input is important. If you have additional questions about the annual membership meeting, or would like to get more involved in any way, please contact your campus representative or contact the statewide office at (510) 845-5726.
Xiaoqing Cao, President, UCLA
Neal Sweeney, Vice President, Campus Unit Chair, UC Santa Cruz
Yi-Chun Maria Chen, Financial Secretary, UC San Francisco
Sonya Collier, Recording Secretary, UC Davis
Benjamin Cain, Trustee, Campus Unit Chair, UC Davis
Antonio Gisbert, Trustee, Campus Recording Secretary, UC San Diego
Johanna Devaney, Guide, Campus Unit Chair, UC Berkeley
Charles Hall, Campus Recording Secretary, UC Berkeley
Christopher Cantor, Head Steward, UC Berkeley
Catherine Eyer, Head Steward, UC Berkeley
Jung Chen Huang, Head Steward, UC Berkeley
Karin Hammer, Head Steward, UC Davis
Anke Schennink, Head Steward, UC Davis
Taruna Ikrar, Campus Recording Secretary, UC Irvine
Mickey Pentecost, Campus Unit Chair, UC Los Angeles
Anne Zaiss, Campus Recording Secretary, UC Los Angeles
Jianwen Chen, Head Steward, UC Los Angeles
Lisa Liu, Head Steward, UC Los Angeles
Sandeep Sahany, Head Steward, UC Los Angeles
Nicola Lercari, Campus Unit Chair, UC Merced
Shuangliang Zhao, Campus Unit Chair, UC Riverside
Jeremy Conkle, Campus Recording Secretary, UC Riverside
Fay Jiang, Campus Unit Chair, UC San Diego
Christine Cerven, Head Steward, UC San Diego
Renu Rawat, Head Steward, UC San Diego
Jamila Newton, Campus Unit Chair, UC San Francisco
Bijan Boldajipour, Head Steward, UC San Francisco
Rachel Grana, Head Steward, UC San Francisco
Brandon Kuczenski, Campus Unit Chair, UC Santa Barbara