Post-docs rally at UW, demanding swift resolution to union bargaining
Several dozen post-doctoral researchers rallied at the University of Washington's Seattle campus on Friday, demanding a swift resolution to contract negotiations.
The post-docs – who repeatedly chanted “we’ll be back!” while carrying signs bearing the names of their departments – delivered a letter to UW President Ana Mari Cauce outlining their demands, includng a bargaining timeline. They also are asking the administration to lift a freeze on regular pay raises.
The post-docs voted to unionize back in May, for better pay and workplace protections, and they say the university is dragging its feet drafting a contract.
Margaret Shepherd, chief of staff for the UW president, said the university is doing everything it can to create a contract as soon as possible.
"Hopefully we can work together toward accomplishing this contract,” said Michelle Tigchelaar, a post-doc in the UW Department of Atmospheric Scientists. She added that it “covers a lot of the goals we share with the university,” including diversity and equity in science as well as making the institution accessible for all researchers.
In a statement issued by the university, officials said the “wage freeze” is a “status quo” provision, required by law when formally organizing a unit for the first time. It prevents employers from unfairly influencing the organizing process.
“We take this seriously," a university spokesman said.
The statement added that the post-docs proposed timeline to complete bargaining — Jan. 15, 2019 — isn’t a formal, legal requirement and UW received the union’s first comprehensive proposal Thursday.
Among those rallying Friday was Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Council member and head of the MLK County Labor Council's Nicole Grant, in a show of solidarity.
Post-docs occupy a gray area in higher education; they aren't students anymore, but they aren't ready to be professors yet. Their unique situation in the workplace ultimately led to the effort to unionize.