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February 26, 2018

A "Union" for PostDoctoral Researchers at Columbia University, Next Ivy PostDocs to Unionize?

From Columbia University PostDoc pages:
We are Columbia postdocs forming a union to improve the postdoc experience at Columbia and to increase our voice as researchers locally and nationally
Here is their"Why" a PostDoc Union?:

FAQ:Why are postdoctoral researchers forming a union?

We are forming a union because we believe that it is time for postdocs and researchers to advocate for ourselves collectively and on equal footing with the Columbia administration, particularly in an increasingly uncertain political and economic environment. We want to bargain and enforce our own terms and conditions of employment like the tens of thousands of graduate employees and postdocs across the country have done. Similarly we want a stronger voice in key policy decisions made outside the University but that affect us as researchers: federal funding for scientific research; compensation standards, such as the new overtime rules passed in 2016 by the US Department of Labor; and federal rules affecting immigrant and guest workers.  
By joining with unionized academic workers nationwide we hope to make changes that will create more positive work environments for future postdocs and improve career pathways for future scientists in the US and beyond.

February 04, 2018

Grduate Students Unionization and the Universities legal tactics?

Feb4, 2018: Latest News about Graduate Students Unionization:
AP news today published a report about graduate students unionization movement, it seems some of the Universities are trying to stifle the union efforts and not listening to the graduate students, despite the graduate student's gone through labor board approvals, after a labor board approved voting results and more. Instead of negotiating with unionized graduate students, the Universities reportedly finding some legal tactics to fight and are going to court?...So what?, Graduate Student's must realize that this is a tough area that most universities will resist and put up a fight, however what you are doing is for a good cause so never give up, despite this bad news I hope graduate student's will triumph!.
  • The fact is: Not all universities Oppose Graduate Students unionization: Although there are couple of Universities that filed suit to reverse the labor board rulings on graduate students union efforts. The labor board recognized and approved the reality that Graduate Student's have the right to unionize, approved their election, election results for further negotiations but some universities do not like this policy and fighting to reverse it, interestingly not all Universities are against the Graduate Student's is the quote from AP News that is more interesting than those who oppose unionization:  
  • Other universities, including American University in Washington, D.C., and Tufts and Brandeis in the Boston area, have agreed to negotiate with newly unionized students.\
Feb 4, 11:08 AM EST
Trump era throws wrench into grad students' hopes for unions

NEW YORK (AP) -- Graduate teaching assistants at private universities had high hopes 18 months ago when a federal labor board ruled that they had a right to collective bargaining, but after the election of President Donald Trump, some schools are taking another shot at halting the burgeoning unionization movement.
Columbia University announced in a university-wide email Tuesday that the school wouldn't bargain with the graduate students who voted more than 2 to 1 for union representation, and would instead appeal to a federal court. Yale and Boston College, among others, have also filed legal appeals, rather than begin negotiating with newly unionized students.
News Link: Click Here

October 08, 2017

Univerisity of Washington PostDocs Forming Union- Latest University PostDocs to Unionize!

University of Washington, yet another top notch higher education/research institute known for an impressive history and record setting, right now they claim to be ranked as the #4th top Institution in America.
And that is very impressive, except for the doctorate degree holders (PostDocs or PostDoctoral Fellows) who work and live around the WU would like to see improvements in their working conditions, salaries, benefits and a better equitable treatment along with a Voice to be heard, and they realized they cannot have a voice without a organized structure for them, that is where "PostDoc"Unionization comes into picture.

The UW PostDocs already claimed to have majority support to form PostDoc Union, and they are going conduct an election, but a precursor to legitimize their unity is to get the approval of local labor boards to conduct election, since they got majority support among PostDocs at UW, they sure can win the election and on their way to form Union..!

Why UW PostDocs interested in Unionization: Linked
We are UW Postdocs forming a union to improve the Postdoc experience at UW and increase the political voice of researchers locally and nationally.
UW Postdocs make essential contributions to the world-class research conducted at UW, but many of us still struggle to pay high housing and other costs in Seattle, lack secure rights in the workplace, and face increasing uncertainty about our futures given the precarious nature of science funding and unstable regulation of visas and work authorization in the current political climate.
UW PostDocs will be the one of the several University PostDocs seeking to Unionize after the great success at UConn Health Center, University of California and a number of other university and institute's postdocs organized themselves for a better equitable work/life experience, we wish UW postdocs to succeed and empower themselves and make UW a better place.....!.
More news to be updated as and when UW PostDocs make progress in this journey!.

May 31, 2017

Unionization at Yale?- Graduate Students anticipate Yale to recognize Union...!!!

Unionization at Yale, that is pretty hard to believe right?, let us first clear the fact that this is graduate student union [not PostDoc Union] along with AFL-CIOs local 33, according to this "Courant" report, the graduate students have been trying to appeal to the Yale University to recognize their union effort for many years and the struggle between them is still ongoing. It has reached a point where both parties must make their final decision and it is now...!! From this Blog, wish them good luck.
The PostDocs at Yale are not yet unionized (some day PostDocs too will Unionize...!!, I am sure they know and watched the unfolding, look no further than your neighbor UCHC at Farmington, the first ever PostDoc union, UCHC has become one of the finest medical/scientific/research facility in America, when the administration understands and support the various stakeholders of the University or Institution, it will become a great place for higher learning and research, it's a wholesome growth and progress after our unionization, everyone is happy including the administration, PostDocs and the Union, hope others will learn from their story).
Courant's Report:

Yale Grad Students Fasting To Win Union Negotiations With School

The graduate students have been trying for years to get Yale to recognize their union, but the university has refused.
Last August, the National Labor Relations Board found that graduate students who assist in teaching and research at private universities are employees and have the right to unionize. Six days later, the Yale organizers filed their petitions to unionize.
In January, the regional office of the NLRB ordered elections, which were held in February. Eight departments voted to unionize including students from the departments of English, geology and geophysics, history, history of art, math and sociology. Only the physics department voted it down.

May 16, 2017

New Federal Overtime Rules and Fair treatment for PostDocs!!

Finally, despite all the odds of science funding cuts and change in politics, policies in DC, Francis S. Collins and Thomas E.Perez's huff blog post sounds petty interesting and timely, it looks like the top scientific leaders of the nation, and scientists from various organizations are working together to make "Postdoc" experience a better part of a scientists life,thereby enhancing a postdocs life. Still long way to go in this goal, but a good direction. Some of the leaders suggested explicit salary increase that would set base salary for Postdoc to be $50,000, that is the start up postdoc salary. Not a bad idea at all, the Unionization already brought up the base salary quite significantly compared to where it was 10 or 15 years ago, and making further improvement to it will go well for the entire scientific community and for the nation to make progress in Scientific and medical field.

The Department of Labor’s recently announced revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will make more than 4 million currently exempt U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay, unless their salaries are raised. Among them are an estimated 37,000 to 40,000 junior scientists who have emerged as critical players in modern biomedical research. There has been considerable concern in both the public and private sectors about how this change will affect the United States’ ability to carry out leading edge research in an efficient, cost-effective manner. But as leaders of the nation’s biomedical research and labor agencies, we are confident the transition can be made in a way that does not harm — and actually serves to enrich — the future of our research enterprise.

Political intrusion combined with scarce funding hurts research and medical specialty

Young and budding med graduates and surgeons discouraged by entering into "high-risk" speciality like cardiac surgery due to political interference and blaming? 

Retired NHS Senior cardiac surgeon Dr.Stephen Westaby is disturbed by the sear amount of political interference in cardiac surgery field in UK, when you combine that with a bad politics with bad press and inundated hospital management, who would choose such specialty?. And, what kind of progress can be made in research and clinical technology....... read more about how "blame is putting off budding surgeons" in this Telegraph column written by Dr.Michael Fitzpatrick

Blame is putting off budding surgeons 

Westaby is frustrated by the difficulties of securing funding for research and technological innovation in his specialty, and infuriated by the intrusion of hospital bureaucracy and managerialism into clinical practice. Like many doctors of a certain age, he is exasperated at all the time wasted, "at the age of 68", in drawing up a "personal development plan"

October 05, 2014

Is the "ongoing PostDocs Crisis"a symptom of Broader problems Plaguing BioMedical Research, Are the PostDocs a Grunt work force of today's Science?

Chart/Illustration/Pic from Boston Globe news-Link
The "plight of PostDocs"has become a major crisis of the Science/biomedical research field, however, where is the crux of the problem lies?. It is the  academic structure itself is the basis for this terrible young scientists crisis. While the awareness about impending issue amongst the postdocs, academics and administrators is slowly picking up steam after almost a Decade of our UCONN Health Center Postdocs Unionization, the mainstream media and scientific media broadly ignored this topic. Seems like they are ready to write about it, I am hoping it is time they too come forward and participate, create and raise awareness about the plight of postdocs and that is actually the plight of our todays scientific research field. The following Boston globe "Metro" news piece seems like a step in that direction of mainstream participation.
             Gary McDowell, 29 a Biology student reveals the cliff of PostDocs crisis, he quotes that the lab bench work and research for these PostDocs is like a "Grunt Work Force", he and other postdocs hopes this Guttural Hogs condition of postdocs changes sooner than later to avoid burnout and major crisis to the scientific research field. 

If there is anything one can learn about the PostDocs issue, it is pretty pathetic and serious...........................Read further into this news piece to know the plights of PostDocs, read further to know what Carolyn has to say about the PostDocs Plight.

Some Quotes from this news piece: Yellow Highlighted
  toiling in obscurity in a low-paying scientific apprenticeship that can stretch more than a decade
this is like captured from My Blogs header, but means and sounds what I meant in the header
But in recent years, the postdoc position has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank.
How low can you equate these great makers of science and medicine, -Just a Supply vs Demand, that sucks:
Some of the smartest people in Boston are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in a biomedical underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand.
The hero of this news piece, Gary, a Biology PostDocs says this "
 “There’s this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there’s nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing.”
about PostDocs, Carolyn writes, is it real or a myth?:
they are both future leaders and the workers who carry out experiments crucial for science to advance. 
It is Certainly true and real on the tongue and in books, or perhaps on this news piece, but not real when it comes to rewards or recognition, they are treated like some kind of "extra pair of hands"- a lab or postdoc jargon. It is not real to see the PostDocs treated and respected that way, no not at all, their screams are like Guttural....!! you heard that from Gary...remember?.
Well, as a former PostDoc, an Advocate and the PostDoc Unionization Pioneer, though I moved up a million miles above the PostDoc's stage after two successful and great, productive postdoc positions and a jaunt at the Yale Medical School,  I can say what Gary or other postdocs lamented in this news piece about their plight is just an understatement and it is rather dire. I wish that future leaders and experts get their share and recognition, respect in due time, not at the end of their life. The bottom line is this damn academic structure, funding and functioning of scientific research needs "Service and overhaul" without that the plights of postdocs "will never change much to the level of appreciation".

Oh I like these lines so much, this is a much needed step towards some action
The plight of postdocs has become a point of national discussion among senior scientists, as their struggles have come to be seen as symptoms of broader problems plaguing biomedical research. After years of rapid growth, federal funding abruptly leveled off and even contracted over the last decade, leaving a glut of postdocs vying for a limited number of faculty jobs. Paradoxically, as they’ve gotten stuck, the pursuit of research breakthroughs has also become reliant on them as a cheap source of labor for senior scientists.
 they do seems like follow a "Well-Worn Pathy?--
Biomedical research training traditionally has followed a well-worn path. After college, people who want to pursue an advanced degree enroll in graduate school. The vast majority of biology graduate students then go on to do one or more postdoc positions, where they continue their training, often well into their 30s.
they are like "invisible people", but their toil and struggle in the lab for more than 40 hours get  good funding and promotions for their Supervior and lab chief, but what do these little fellows get?
Their progress is very poorly tracked; the leader of a national report on the state of postdocs has called them “invisible people.” The National Institutes of Health estimates there are somewhere between 37,000 and 68,000 postdocs in the country. Salaries vary, but rarely reflect their level of education. The NIH stipend ranges from $42,000 a year for a starting postdoc, up to $55,272 for a seventh year.
and how long they and how many years they toil to reach for independent research jobs? but yet the majority do not attain that target in real world
 Their progress is very poorly tracked; the leader of a national report on the state of postdocs has called them “invisible people.” The National Institutes of Health estimates there are somewhere between 37,000 and 68,000 postdocs in the country. Salaries vary, but rarely reflect their level of education. The NIH stipend ranges from $42,000 a year for a starting postdoc, up to $55,272 for a seventh year.
there is no proper teenable models, not just some but most of them are not....
 “Some of the models we see don’t seem tenable in the long run,” Krukenberg said.
sure do the senior scientists, some of them agree with this, but many are oblivious and do not care for PostDocs
 Many senior scientists, who may fondly remember their own postdocs days, agree that laboratories have grown too bloated. As the cost of conducting research and the number of institutions doing such work have increased, science has outgrown the traditional model in which trainees are also the worker bees, they say.
game is changed but there is no game changer for postdocs
 “The game is changed, and what should be a wonderful time in people’s lives is, in many cases, a time of great, great anxiety and unhappiness.”
I think, Casey has done something good for himself, not worrying about years of his postdoc field and experience, he found an alternative way to prosper and progress
If there is one problem amongst PostDocs, is this one. Are they brain dead or what to go caught up with this cobbled web of Postdoctoring?, why not change your aims, goals and directions, why not think out of the box, why not use your creativity for something else in this world. Instead of that futile "faculty" job or academic career?. I wish PostDocs come out of their grunt work force and use their talents. Yes, the academy is broken and useless to reform, there is no one to listen to you, look at the scientific funding, some damn representatives may fund millions and millions of dollars for worthless areas in America but they do not want to provide even basic amount of funding used to be allocated for scientific research, so what is the use in screaming, just find an alternative and use your talents.  Here is a guy who did exactly that....
Casey Ydenberg’s path illustrates how easy it is to follow a dream and find oneself locked in a career track without a destination.
Ydenberg, 33, has an impressive resume: he earned a PhD at Princeton, then went for a postdoc at Brandeis. This summer, a decade into his training, he realized that not only were the odds of getting a faculty job against him, but he didn’t think he really wanted one. He felt burnt out.
Today, Ydenberg is pursuing a job that gives him real joy, building websites. He isn’t bitter; he cherishes his memories of graduate school. But he uses none of his formal training and thinks there should be more conversations, earlier, about future careers so that people don’t spend as long honing research skills that may not prove relevant.
For Postdocs plight to change, not only reformation and changes are needed immediately, but also the postdocs instead of being caught in the vicious cycle, must think out of the box and out of the routine or out of the ordinary, do not suck into this mundane daily routines of lab work.

Glut of postdoc researchers stirs quiet crisis in science By

 | Globe Staff   October 05, 2014

“It’s sunk in that it’s by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible,” said Gary McDowell, 29, a biologist doing his second postdoc at Tufts University who hopes to set up his own lab in a few years. “There’s this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there’s nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing.”

Featured Post

Univerisity of Washington PostDocs Forming Union- Latest University PostDocs to Unionize!

University of Washington, yet another top notch higher education/research institute known for an impressive history and record setting, rig...

UNION yes!!!

UNION yes!!!
Hello Grads-Say Yes to Union!

Here is the PostDoc Wheel of PRO/UAW, this is like the Wheel of Dhamma of Lord Buddha's that is a symbol of justice and liberation. The latest news from PRO/UAW is very promising to the 5000 or more postdocs in different campuses of University of California System.

The Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California
PRO/UAW is the Union for over 5,000 Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California. By signing up a majority of Postdocs, we can exercise our legal rights to bargain with UC. Postdoc representatives we choose will survey us to determine priorities and will then negotiate a contract with UC. We can negotiate for improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. Postdocs will then have an opportunity to democractically approve the agreement that UC and our bargaining team reach, before it becomes a binding contract.