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.