Initial Bargaining Demands for 2021 Postdoc Contract Negotiations

The global pandemic and the relentless rise in the cost of living in the vicinity of University of California’s campuses have exposed and exacerbated deep inequities. These demands reflect the unwavering commitment of 7,000 Postdocs to improve equity and to serve the public through research and education. Our labor is essential to UC and LBL’s world-class research programs, and better working conditions for Postdocs will enhance and improve research outcomes.

Compensation and Benefits 

Increase compensation to match Postdoc expertise and experience in order to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that keeps the UC system a top-tier institution. Improve health benefits, including mental health care. Provide contributions to retirement accounts for all Postdocs commensurate with other UC employees and vacation time that carries forward and is paid out if unused.


Provide Postdocs with affordable and quality housing near work or housing subsidies appropriate to the local cost of living, in order to reduce climate impacts and promote environmental justice.

Relocation Costs

Cover all costs of moving to work at UC.

Environmental Sustainability

Provide free access to local public transportation. Implement other practices that promote sustainability and environmental justice, and protect Postdocs against hazards brought on by climate change. Include Postdocs on decision-making bodies for UC sustainability initiatives.

Family and Dependent Care

To promote gender equity, provide childcare support and expand paid family leave.

International Postdocs

Provide financial aid for visa costs, paid leave for visa and immigration-related appointments, support for moving to the US including campus housing access, and free tax and legal assistance. Improve funding opportunities for scholars from international and underrepresented communities to increase diversity and better support groundbreaking research.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Stop discrimination, harassment, and bullying, including by providing peer-led training on prevention and response options. Improve campus climate, support underrepresented groups, and expand education/training on countering intersectional forms of oppression. Reform campus policing to improve campus safety for all Postdocs, increase UCPD  transparency, and include Postdocs on oversight committees related to policing and campus safety. 

Appointment Length

Improve appointment security to match research needs, and to remove the burden and delays of visa renewal for international Postdocs. 

Career Development

Increase career development resources, improve effectiveness and accountability of mentors and support rights to secondary mentors. Establish and expand policies for Postdocs to serve as PIs and instructors of record. Ensure that Postdocs receive appropriate academic credit and allow Postdocs to share their work with the public by covering open access publishing fees.

Protect Postdocs’ Rights

Guarantee that each Postdoc gets a union orientation and gets enrolled in benefits within 30 days of starting work. Provide the union with full and accurate information regarding Postdoc employment, clarify Postdocs’ rights to bargain over changes to their working conditions, and strengthen Postdocs’ and the union’s ability to enforce their rights.

Terms Not Addressed Above

In addition, we propose maintaining or improving all other existing terms in the CBA not addressed above. To ensure that UC is on proper notice pursuant Article 36B that all Articles are designated, please know that these demands may result in the change to any or all Articles in the Contract and the possible addition of provisions.


Frequently Asked Questions

Jade Moore, PhD, UCSF Radiation Oncology

“I’m supporting these demands because through our union contract we can make progress on achieving gender equity. Childcare stipends, increased paid leave for new parents, and stronger discrimination and harassment protections are all achievable if we are united.”

Caitlin Taylor, Psychological & Brain Sciences, UCSB

“All the issues in the demands are important, but I’m especially excited about improving pay and benefits. UC’s total grant revenues are $6 billion per year. Bottom line: our research brings in lots of revenue to UC, and we deserve to be fairly compensated.”

How were these demands developed?

These demands were developed through member input over the past year that took many different forms, including thousands of conversations, a formal bargaining survey, membership meetings, and grievance procedures.

Why are the initial demands so broad? Is this what the contract language would be?

These initial demands are not final contract language. Rather, they are general goals of topics we will be fighting to improve during bargaining. As the contract campaign progresses, the contract language will be developed through a combination of further research, additional membership discussion, topic-specific working groups, negotiating with UC administration, etc.

What is bargaining?

Bargaining is the process by which we negotiate a new contract with the university that will determine our working conditions (wages, benefits, etc.) for the next several years. The first step of this process was the development of the bargaining demands through an extensive process and conversations with thousands of Postdocs. The next step was Postdocs voting to ratify these demands, which happened in April 2021. Nearly 60% of Postdocs participated in the ratification vote, including a majority at each campus. There will be many opportunities for members to get involved throughout the negotiation process

What are UC’s initial bargaining demands?

UC’s initial demands contain no improvements and try to walk back benefits Postdocs won in previous contracts. Fortunately, we know from past experience that we can still win major improvements. UC proposed almost exactly the same changes to our contract in 2016 and they did not win. Why? Postdocs participated in meetings at every campus, obtained majority support, got involved in the bargaining process and increased the membership rate. As a result of hard work, Postdocs won dramatic improvements in salaries and raises, benefits, and protections from layoffs, all because the vast majority of Postdocs were members of our union and were active in the bargaining process.

I don’t have any issues — why should I care about this?

Many of the rights and benefits you enjoy today have come from activism and organizing of previous generations of Postdocs just like you. Your decision to become involved and support the contract campaign ensures we can continue to build a stronger UC and do better research. The most basic way to support is by being a union member. If you’re not a member yet, please sign up here.

How can I get more involved?

Everyone is welcome & strongly encouraged to participate in every stage of our contract campaign. There are many ways to get involved:

Become a member: If you aren’t already, be sure to sign up as a member of your union! There is strength in numbers. Membership builds our collective power to win more rights and benefits. Sign up using this online form.

Encourage others in your department to sign on to the demands: Help contact others in your lab, department, or other social networks about signing on to the demands! The more members doing this work, the stronger we can make our campaign as a whole. Email to get connected with organizers in your area. 

Attend & participate in your campus membership meetings: To find out about your campus meetings, check out our calendar.

Attend & participate in bargaining sessions: All members are encouraged to attend bargaining sessions! When bargaining begins later this summer, more information will be shared about when sessions are and how you can join.