Updates

Please RSVP: Bargaining Update on Interest Arbitration and Next Steps

After our most recent postdoc contract bargaining session with the University on August 13, 2019, we think it would be best to pursue interest arbitration in order to secure a fair contract for UConn Postdocs. Since May, the University has moved very slowly, and in recent sessions, has continued to reject many reasonable and fair provisions on core issues such as Non-Discrimination and Harassment, Healthcare, Retirement, and Compensation.

A strong majority of UConn postdocs voted earlier this year to authorize the bargaining committee to invoke arbitration if we deemed it necessary to win a fair contract. As we now prepare to formally invoke arbitration, we nevertheless want to ensure that members have an opportunity to hear about the decision from the Bargaining Committee, and for us to address any questions you may have. We will hold a conference call on Wednesday, August 28 at 6:00PM for anyone who is interested in learning more about the status of negotiations with the University and the process of invoking arbitration. If you would like to join the call, please RSVP here. If you cannot join us for the call, you can read our FAQ to learn more about interest arbitration or reach out to one of your bargaining team members. As always, we will also continue to send members updates about critical developments in the contract negotiation process.

Finally, we would like to note that invoking arbitration does not preclude continued negotiations, and we hope the University will work harder to reach agreement in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, we feel it is absolutely necessary to move forward with the interest arbitration process at this point.

RSVP here to join the conference call re Interest Arbitration

In Solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics

Important Update on Postdoc Union Negotiations

We have an important update on negotiations for our first union contract for Postdocs. Click here to get involved in our campaign to improve the Postdoc experience at UConn.

After months of bargaining, and reaching tentative agreement on more than a dozen topics, we unfortunately face a number of major roadblocks to reaching agreement on a full contract. The University team continues to refuse to agree to fair provisions on core issues that a majority of Postdocs ratified as part of our bargaining agenda last fall, including Non-Discrimination and Harassment, Healthcare, Retirement, and Compensation. See below for a summary of some of the major outstanding issues, as well as immediate next steps we are taking in order to continue pursuing fair improvements for Postdocs.

Major Areas of Disagreement

On Non-Discrimination and Harassment – the University continues to propose that Postdocs have fewer rights, protections and avenues of recourse regarding sexual harassment and discrimination than Graduate Assistants have under their union contract.

On Healthcare – the University unreasonably insists that Postdocs continue to pay significantly higher healthcare premiums than the tens of thousands of other unionized state employees, including faculty and staff at UConn, as well as Postdocs at the Health Center. Our proposal for equity would save an individual Postdoc hundreds of dollars per year in premium costs. *See note below regarding our effort to achieve healthcare premium equity through other action.

On Retirement – the University has for years denied Postdocs access to the same retirement options offered to all other full-time state employees. By proposing to continue this inequity, the University weakens the long term economic security of Postdocs–each year a Postdoc works without equal retirement benefits means a likely loss of roughly  $15,000 dollars upon retirement.

On Compensation – the University has proposed a one-time 2% increase to the minimum salary, no increase for those already above the minimum, and no assurance of any increases in future years. This proposal would move us backwards overall from current practices and is totally unacceptable.

*Next Steps in our Campaign for Improving the Postdoc Experience at UConn

We find the University’s rigid resistance to fair improvements for Postdocs deeply disappointing, especially given UConn’s stated mission to be an equitable and inclusive institution and our mutual goal of attracting the best and brightest researchers from across the globe. Despite UConn’s intransigence, we will continue fighting for a fair contract. We have another bargaining session scheduled in early August, but we are also beginning to pursue other options to achieve improvements we believe Postdocs at UConn deserve.

First, given our belief that Postdocs deserve the same, more affordable, premiums as tens of thousands of other unionized full-time state employees, we are now pursuing a grievance through the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) to achieve that goal. SEBAC has an agreement with the state covering all unionized state employees that we believe entitles UConn Postdocs to the lower premiums.  While we will continue the bargaining process, and would have preferred to reach agreement with UConn by now, we feel compelled to pursue every option to achieve more affordable health benefits for Postdocs. We will keep you posted as this grievance progresses.

Second, while we have not yet invoked interest arbitration, we are in the process of identifying an arbitrator acceptable to both the University and to the Postdocs, in preparation for the possibility that arbitration will be necessary to finalize a contract. A majority of all UConn Postdocs voted earlier this year to authorize the bargaining committee to invoke arbitration if we deemed it necessary to win a fair contract. For newer Postdocs, you can read our FAQ if you would like to learn more about interest arbitration, or reach out to one of your bargaining team members.

Postdoc Union Bargaining Update

After a number of long and intensive bargaining sessions in the last few weeks, we have yet to reach agreement with the University on a fair contract. We made some progress last week and reached tentative agreement on several more articles, which are listed below. However, we still need to reach agreement on a number of critically important topics before we can have a complete contract, ready for ratification by Postdocs and the UConn Board of Trustees.

We will continue negotiations with the University this week and are determined to reach agreement on a strong and fair contract. Should we reach agreement with the University, we will inform you immediately to provide details of the agreement and information on how to vote on ratifying the contract either online or in person. We urge you to look out for updates from us this week, and to vote promptly if we reach agreement with the University. Any contract must be ratified to proceed to the State Legislature by this weekend.

In the meantime, if you have questions about the contract negotiation process, and would like to know more about this important issue that impacts us all, we will have information sessions on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 12:00-1:00 pm and from 5:00-7:00 pm in the Biology/Physics Building, Room 201.

Tentative Agreements as of April 30, 2019

    • Recognition
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • Employment Files
    • Health and Safety
    • Travel
    • Training and Orientation
    • Severability
    • Union Security
    • Union Management Committee
    • Workspace and Materials
    • Workload
    • Intellectual Property
    • Discipline and Dismissal
    • Appointments and Reappointments
    • Continuation of Services

In Solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics

Postdoc Union Bargaining Update

We write with several updates on our negotiations with UConn.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the interest arbitration vote. A majority of our members voted to authorize the Bargaining Committee to invoke arbitration, if necessary, to win a fair contract.

We are also happy to report we have now reached tentative agreements on a total of ten contract articles (see list below). Yet, we continue to face major intransigence from the administration on core issues, such as wages, health insurance costs, retirement, childcare, international Postdoc rights, and protections against discrimination and harassment.

Despite nationwide attention to the prevalence of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, including in academia, the administration outrageously continues to reject our proposal that grants Postdocs adequate protections against and recourse in cases of harassment and discrimination; and they have repeatedly rejected our proposal that Postdocs be given the same rights as UConn Graduate Assistants with respect to this important issue. Having recently celebrated International Women’s Day, this opinion piece by a member of our Bargaining Committee expresses why it is vital for the administration to ensure gender equity at UConn, including for Postdocs.

Just as we call on the administration to better support Postdocs, we believe it is also necessary for all members of the UConn community to work together to further the university’s mission. To that end, we have joined with other unions at UConn to voice support for state funding for UConn as Connecticut state legislators prepare to vote on a budget. You can read the joint statement of support from UConn unions here.

Going forward, we have an intensive bargaining schedule planned for late March and into April. We are determined as ever to reach agreement with the administration on a strong and fair contract by April 15th, the mutually agreed upon date. As we move forward in our negotiations, we greatly appreciate all your support in urging the administration to acknowledge the value of the work that Postdocs perform everyday to further the university’s mission.

Click here to get involved in our fight for a fair contract

Tentative Agreements as of March 5, 2019

    • Recognition
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • Employment Files
    • Health and Safety
    • Travel
    • Training and Orientation
    • Severability
    • Union Security
    • Union Management Committee
    • Workspace and Materials

In Solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics

UConn still resisting improved Postdoc pay and benefits

Vote Now to Authorize Arbitration If We Need it to Win a Contract

We met with the University again this week. The University continues to resist enhancing the quality of Postdoc life at UConn. We therefore strongly encourage all Postdocs to participate in our interest arbitration authorization vote.

We spent most of our time in this week’s session listening to a University presentation about how state budget cuts affect the University’s budget. We understand the University’s overall challenges created by cuts in state appropriations. But we also know that most Postdocs are not funded by the state and that the value of the work we do as Postdocs far outweighs the costs of our salaries and benefits.

While the University clearly hopes to cite the state budget crisis as justification to oppose economic improvements for Postdocs, we believe our proposed improvements would help the University attract the best researchers, which in turn will help continue to increase the overall research budget and quality of UConn as a research institution. The University’s proposal for a one-time $6 increase to the minimum annual salary for Postdocs, with no guaranteed raises, moves us in the opposite direction. They can, and should, do better.

Despite the University’s unreasonable attitude on economic proposals, we did have some productive discussion of our proposals for reasonable workload protections and language ensuring that the University would consider any required training to be part of our regular work time and would reimburse any costs associated with such training. We hope to make more progress next week.

Please let us know if you have any questions and we would be happy to follow up.

Postdoc Union Bargaining Update

After several more bargaining sessions in recent weeks and a comprehensive set of initial proposals, the University has so far failed to offer any meaningful improvements in response to the bargaining goals that the majority of us approved in the Fall (see brief update below). We are confident that – with continued majority support from Postdocs – we can negotiate a fair union contract just as our Graduate Assistant colleagues have done twice in recent years. However, UConn’s approach so far suggests that we should start taking active steps to help ensure that the University moves more quickly to agree to fair improvements.

Please click here if you would like to get more involved and help with our efforts to win fair improvements for Postdocs in our first contract

We will hold a town hall lunch (pizza and drinks provided) on Thursday, January 17th from 12:00 – 2:00 PM in Biology/Physics Building (BPB) 201 to discuss bargaining. Please RSVP here if you would like to stop by.

So far, the UConn bargaining team has made proposals that do not match the tremendous value that we provide to the core research mission of the University, are totally unacceptable and verge on insulting:

    • While we proposed improvements to the total amount of time off available each year, including a new right to paid family leave, the University proposed a reduction in the total amount of vacation, sick leave and holidays and has rejected family leave
    • They want to deny us the same strong protections from sexual harassment and discrimination that GAs have won through their union (including access to union representation and the right to take a complaint to a neutral arbitrator rather than a University administrator)
    • They proposed to continue denying retirement benefits to Postdocs, even though virtually every other full-time state employee receives such benefits (including UConn Health Center Postdocs)
    • They proposed to continue forcing Postdocs to pay significantly higher “non-union” health insurance premiums than other union-represented employees, including faculty.
    • They proposed to give a one-time $6 increase to the minimum annual salary and eliminate any guarantee of future wage increases, breaking with the NIH policy

We will be glad to discuss all of these issues in more detail and answer any questions at the town hall meeting, including the current policies that govern our work, and more details about proposed improvements. We encourage Postdocs to attend and learn more about this process.

Given the slow pace of negotiations so far, we plan to ask Postdocs to vote soon on authorizing our Bargaining Committee to invoke interest arbitration if it becomes necessary later in bargaining. Interest arbitration is a process under Connecticut state law (in lieu of striking) that allows a Union to take bargaining disputes to a neutral arbitrator to reach a final contract. We hope to reach agreement with UConn without having to invoke interest arbitration, but taking the vote sends a message that we are serious about getting a contract done by the end of this academic year. We will provide more information about this soon.

In solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics

Postdoc Union Bargaining Update

Negotiations for the first Postdoc contract have begun! Thank you to everyone who voted to approve our initial bargaining goals. The strong majority participation by postdocs in our survey and bargaining goals vote strengthens our position at the bargaining table.

We have now met with the University’s bargaining team several times, and will continue negotiations over the Winter break period. While we have many issues to work through, we are excited to be finally sitting down to negotiate a secure contract that protects the interests and needs of Postdocs, while advancing the mission of the University.

At the outset of the negotiations, we provided our overall initial bargaining goals, which aim to improve the lives of postdocs and to make UConn a more inclusive and competitive research community. Since then, we have started exchanging specific proposals and counter proposals for all of the topics we hope to include in our first contract.  Topics we have discussed so far include appointment notification, workload, anti-discrimination protections, leaves of absence, and intellectual property. As we proceed, we will send further updates and welcome any feedback or questions. By the end of this week, we expect to have exchanged all initial proposals with the University.

Finally, if you are a parent or guardian, please use the link below to complete a quick survey on childcare options and resources. Your responses will help us to bargain more effectively when negotiating provisions related to childcare: https://goo.gl/forms/1ttcDmKEJQT8Fnvi1.

In Solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

 

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics

Vote on Our Union Initial Bargaining Goals

In another important step in building our Postdoc union at UConn, we are proud to ask you to vote on our initial bargaining goals! Your continued participation is invaluable in efforts to secure improvements in our first-ever contract with the University.

Thanks to a supermajority of Postdocs who completed our bargaining survey, and based on feedback we’ve received from the very beginning of our unionization efforts, the Bargaining Committee has developed a broad set of bargaining goals for our first contract. The Bargaining Committee unanimously recommends your endorsement of these goals so that we can take a strong mandate into negotiations with the University. While we know we will have to make compromises along the way, it is important that we start with the broadest possible agenda incorporating all the concerns Postdocs have raised since we started organizing.

Read our bargaining agenda here!

Please e-mail us at uconnpostdocsunion[@]gmail.com if you have not received your link to vote.

With participation and support from a strong majority of Postdocs across campus, we hope to improve the UConn Postdoc experience in ways that help us excel in our research, while also making the University more accessible, inclusive, and competitive by securing essential workplace protections and benefits such as: fair pay, professional development rights, affordable health benefits, paid parental and maternity leave, longer job appointments, stronger protections from sexual harassment, and more.

If you have questions about our bargaining goals or the process more generally, we will be available to answer your questions on Wednesday, October 3, ar 12:30pm in BioPharm (PBB) 303.

In solidarity,

UConn Postdoc Union, UAW Local 6950 Bargaining Committee

Meet your Bargaining Committee

The following have been elected to the UConn Postdoc Union Bargaining Committee by acclamation.

Christina Baer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kirsten Grond, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Artemis Louyakis, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

James Mickley, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Neranjan Perera, Institute for Systems Genomics


The bargaining committee will now start writing our initial bargaining goals, based on feedback from our bargaining survey. If you have not done so already please fill out a bargaining survey here.

Once the initial bargaining goals are written we will have an election to ratify these goals. Please stay tuned for more information.

Bargaining Committee Election Notice

NOTICE OF NOMINATION AND ELECTION FOR THE UNION BARGAINING COMMITTEE

(up to seven [7] positions)

August  26, 2018

Nominations are hereby declared open for the University of Connecticut Postdoctoral Researchers Union Bargaining Committee (up to seven [7] positions): All eligible Union supporters [any University of Connecticut Postdoctoral Research Associates who are currently employed by the university] who have signed a union authorization card are automatically nominated for the Bargaining Committee.

The bargaining committee will have up to seven members.

Any eligible Union supporter who wishes to accept the nomination for one of the seven (7) Bargaining Committee positions listed above may accept nomination by submitting in writing a statement of acceptance to the Recording Secretary of the Elections Committee no later than 5pm on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 by e-mail to [email protected].

Go to our website for details about the responsibilities of bargaining committee members.

Candidate statements

Each candidate may write and submit a candidate statement of no more than 500 words. These statements will be posted on the postdoc union website if there are contested elections.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to submit the candidate statement. All candidate statements must be received by the time nominations close at 5pm on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, to the Recording Secretary of the Elections Committee at [email protected].

Election Dates, Times and Locations

In the event that the number of eligible candidates who accept nomination for the specified position do not exceed the number of open positions (up to seven [7] positions), such candidates will be deemed elected by acclamation and no election will be held.

If more than seven people accept nomination, an election will be conducted with the top seven (7) vote getters being elected.

Elections would take place on Monday, September 17 at the following time and location.

Student Union Building, outside of the graduate student lounge, from 9am-5pm.

A run-off election, in an event of a tie for the seventh position, will be held on Monday, September 24, from 9am to 5pm. The location will be announced if necessary.