UAW Local 5810 is the Union representing the 6,500+ Postdoctoral researchers (employees, fellows, and paid directs) at the University of California. Since ratifying our first contract in 2010, we have improved our compensation, health care, benefits, and overall working conditions (see here and here for highlights and full language of our current contract), while advocating for policies like increased federal funding of science and comprehensive immigration reform.
A brief history of our Union can be found here. We have also been featured in the press, including Science Careers, Nature Cell Biology, New Scientist, HHMI Bulletin, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.
The following checklist is designed to help you make a smooth transition to your Postdoc at the University of California. Please email us if you have questions, or feedback on how we can make this resource more complete and up-to-date.
- Congratulations on your new appointment! Every Postdoc should receive an appointment letter from their hiring department before starting. Review, sign, and return your appointment letter. Your appointment letter should contain, at least:
- Your job title, funding information available to the University at the time of appointment including salary/stipend amount, supplemental compensation information, if any, funding source(s), and appointment percentage Note: As of December 1, 2016 your yearly salary should match or exceed the minimum for your years of experience as a Postdoc listed in the table below:
- Your supervisor’s name, department or academic/research unit, and a brief description of the anticipated research project(s).
- The beginning and end dates of your appointment.
- Anticipated place of employment (location of work site – e.g., main campus, remote location, medical center).
- A summary of benefits. Note: All UC Postdocs (Employees, Fellows, and Paid Directs) and their dependents (spouse/partner and children) are eligible to enroll in the Postdoctoral Scholars Benefit Plan (PSBP). Your health insurance coverage benefits start on the first day of your appointment.
|Postdoctoral Scholar Experience Based Salary/Stipend Minima*|
|Postdoctoral Scholar Experience||Effective December 1, 2016|
|1st year (Step 0; 0 – 11 months of Postdoc experience)||$48,216|
|2nd year (Step 1; 12 – 23 months of Postdoc experience)||$50,316|
|3rd year (Step 2; 24 – 35 months of Postdoc experience)||$52,140|
|4th year (Step 3; 36 – 47 months of Postdoc experience)||$54,228|
|5th year (Step 4; 48 – 59 months of Postdoc experience)||$56,400|
|6th year (Step 5; 60 – 71 months of Postdoc experience), by UC exception||$58,560|
|* Article 4.A.1: “Nothing shall preclude the University from providing compensation to Postdoctoral Scholars at rates above those required in this Article. Such rates may be provided on appointment, reappointment, anniversary date, and/or as a merit increase.”|
- Join the Postdoc Union! We derive our power from the strength of our membership. Having a strong membership majority means a great deal in enforcing our current contract and winning improvements in the future! As a member you can also participate in decision making, elect leadership, and are eligible for additional Union Member Benefits and Discounts.
- Fill out a Membership Card. Please note that we need an original signature.
- Essentially, you only have to make two choices:
- Who to cover: Yourself, you+spouse/partner, you+dependent(s), or you+spouse/partner+dependent(s).
- Please note that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on your marital or family status. If you have any problems or questions about enrollment please email us.
- Medical Plans: Health Net Medical HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or Health Net PPO (Preferred Provider Organization)
- Dental Plans: Health Net Dental HMO or Principal POS (Point of Service)
- Vision Plan: Health Net Vision
- Long Term Disability Plan: Standard Insurance. (All Postdocs are automatically enrolled in Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D), and Short-Term Disability Coverage.)
|Monthly Premium Rates
|Medical HMO||Medical PPO||Dental||Vision||Long-Term Disability|
|Postdoc + Dependent(s)||$17.53||$40.00||$0.00||$0.00||$9.00|
|Postdoc + Spouse/Partner||$36.07||$40.00||$0.00||$0.00||$9.00|
|Postdoc + Spouse/Partner + Dependent(s)||$45.84||$60.00||$0.00||$0.00||$9.00|
- Understand your mentor’s expectations and your own responsibilities.
- Get information about success measures for your Postdoctoral positions and set some short-and long-term goals with your mentors.
- Discuss how you and your PI will communicate – preferences, patterns, and frequency.
- Ask questions about the lab, group, and department.
- To receive health benefits, you must enroll within 31 days! It’s easy, please see above!
- Research and sign-up for mailing lists to receive announcements of events and talks from your lab, department, and other groups and organizations.
- We are all affected by politics, so we should all be involved in politics! Recently, we have advocated for policies like increased federal funding for science research and comprehensive immigration reform.
- Email your campus leadership (see above) to get involved!
- If eligible, register to vote in California and consider participating in V-CAP, a voluntary program to help support candidates and legislation that support Postdocs and other UAW members.
- Learn about what the Union is doing! Get questions answered!
- Meet other Postdocs!
- Get involved! We are a democratic organization – your participation is essential! By contributing your ideas you’ll help shape the direction of the Union!
- Verify that your salary corresponds to the amount listed in your appointment letter, that it is at least equal to the contractual minimum for your level of Postdoctoral experience, and that your tax, Union, and PSBP deductions are correct. You can see your pay stub here.
- Consider starting your Individual Development Plan (IDP). An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a planning process that identifies goals for your research, professional development, and career, and engages your mentor to help you work toward these objectives. If you decide to do an IDP, your mentor must participate meaningfully in the process with you.
- Consider getting business cards through your department. These are great at conferences, big and small talks, and even professional/social encounters.
- Presenting your work at other labs or group meetings (perhaps linking your prior work to the Postdoctoral work you are now starting) is an easy way to connect with your local scientific community.
- Update your information on your lab’s website. This will be particularly useful while looking for faculty positions or jobs. If your lab does not have a web site, consider asking your PI to set one up.
- Plan ahead with your PI to strike the work/life balance that is right for you. We have 13 paid University holidays and 24 days of paid personal time off per year. If you do not use your personal time off within your appointment year, you lose it. We also have 12 days of sick leave per year, which do accrue from year to year.
- Be informed about paying U.S. and State of California taxes
- Federal and California State tax returns are due April 15 every year. If taxes are not being deducted from your pay, you are probably required to file estimated quarterly returns.
- If you are an international Postdoc you might be covered under a tax treaty. Here are some resources for common postdoc tax questions:
This document was last updated in December 2014. Please email us if you have questions, or feedback on how we can make this resource more complete and up-to-date.