Postdoctoral researchers’ union reaches tentative contract agreement with UC

postDoc_Anke Schennink_courtesy
Anke Schennink/Courtesy

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The university’s postdoctoral researchers’ union, UAW 5810, announced Thursday that it has reached a tentative settlement with the university on a new four-year contract.

The new agreement includes a 10 percent higher minimum salary effective Dec. 1, four weeks of paid parental leave and improved protections for postdocs regarding sexual harassment complaints, according to a UC press release.

“The agreement fairly compensates postdocs for their contributions, provides support for employees with families and is financially sound for the university,” said UC Office of the President spokesperson Claire Doan in an email.

The settlement, which was reached late Wednesday, comes after five months of bargaining, said UAW 5810 president Anke Schennink, a former UC Davis postdoc in animal science. According to Schennink, the bargaining table included UCOP and campus representatives as well as a postdoc bargaining team consisting of elected union members.

The tentative agreement is now up for a ratification vote — a process in which postdocs throughout the university will vote for or against the contract. The vote will be tallied Friday, and if the contract is ratified, it will give UC postdocs the highest pay scale of any public university in the U.S.

“These are much, much-needed improvements,” Schennink said. “A lot of postdocs can’t even afford the basics and really have to struggle from month to month.”

Lydia Majure, a campus postdoc in neuroscience and a trustee on the executive board of the union, said she is optimistic about the effect of the new contract on postdocs’ ability to combat the rising cost of living and start a family.

“Moving forward, we hope to just continue to stand united as postdocs to show the university that we are engaged and committed to promoting a better scientific environment,” Majure said.

The new contract is valid until Sept. 30, 2020.

Harini Shyamsundar is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.

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  • Birch please

    Somehow feel getting people jobs and out of this temp position should be the priority, not making the postdoc a more stable career lol.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps

      In some fields (particularly biotech), 2–5 years as a postdoc is a prerequisite for getting a white-collar job. As long as industry and academia are requiring people to do postdocs, the postdocs should get a living wage. Raising the price of postdocs will also encourage more companies and universities to provide permanent positions rather than postdocs, as much of the incentive for creating postdoc positions is that they are very cheap researchers.