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December 25, 2006

PostDoc Unionization in UC!

It Ain't Over Till It's Over
Beryl Lieff BenderlyUnited States1 December 2006
The campaign to unionize the postdocs at the University of California (UC), already one of the strangest such sagas in memory, took another unexpected turn last month. After filing for recognition with the state's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) in September, the union that is trying to organize the UC system's 5800 to 6000 postdocs withdrew its petition in early November.

December 19, 2006


Why Do We Have Reservations Based on Caste?

Why did our forefathers moot the idea of implementing reservations in Indian education system and employment?

The idea of reservations was mooted to rectify the Indian social system which was far more debilitating than the Indian economic system. For centuries, spanning nearly two thousand years, a majority of India was persecuted, discriminated and ostracized by a minority community on the name of caste. Caste was and is inviolable to all Indians- it was decided two thousand years ago for all generations to come, and nothing one can do to change that. Contrast this with a feudal system- a farmer can become a landlord in 2-3 generations and thus completely change his social status. In a religious system, one can espouse a new religion to escape persecution. But in a caste system, one cannot change his caste and hence will continue to be discriminated for generations. This inviolable and deeply entrenched caste system in India was used to ostracize and oppress a low caste majority by the high caste minority- by keeping lower castes out of all social systems- education, religion, business, administration, employment, etc, and this was carried out systematically through many centuries resulting in what we call as 'social handicap'.

GLOBAL WARMING:- How Ignorant ARE we ??

Global WarmingIs this inconvenient truth or truth has been conveniently pushed, pushed to make believe that there is not enough evidence. So, it is more of a Convinient lies told over and over again by the politicians, leaders and the wested interest companies that pay millions to some fake scientists to provide wrong data that there is no evidence for global wrming, why do you need evidence you moron, look around and don't you see the environment is constantly screwed up by humans more than any living or non-living influence on the damaging atmorsphere?. So, it goes.......AT THIS JUNCTURE, WE CAN RATHER TRUST INDIVIDUAL HUMANS TO HELP CLEAN UP THE ENVIRONMENT AND KEEP IT SAFE THAN ASKING THE POLITICIANS AND LEADERS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT,yes, every concerned human of this earth must do their due duty to protect, safegaurd the environment for the fututre generatiion, we might escape from the huge calamity is waiting to happen,but our next generation will pay for it if we do not take action right now!

December 14, 2006

CHINA-the changing face of Science in China

Science Magazine Article:
Special Feature: Scientific Opportunities in China
Alan KotokUnited States
8 December 2006
When was the last time you saw the word stunning used to describe growth in scientific research spending???

Left: the Yin & Yang
Principles of Chinese science & Medicine

A new report (December 2006) from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) details China's new role as a worldwide scientific powerhouse. According to the OECD, in 2006
China will surpass Japan in total research and development spending, making the United States the only nation that spends more. Dirk Pilat, head of the OECDs Science and Technology Policy division, says in a press release, The rapid rise of China in both money spent and researchers employed is stunning.

November 07, 2006

University of California- UC PostDocs Unionization

The PostDocs Plight- Latest Union Activity at UC

The most recent news release about UC POSTDOC Unionization depicts as though some great failure occurred in the Unionization effort of University of California Postdocs. In contrast, it is a sensationalistic propoganda of these news reporters who use all these terms like "UC unionization is a bust", UC unionization is a failure, UAW failed to unionize postdocs and what not? to put this unionization heat off, not knowing that it is a great initiative that kicked off few years ago, going at its own speed, an effort like this at this juncture, should not be treated or construed as a failure. It is infact, a very successeful organization effort, because the postdocs are not sitting quite now and sleepaway thinking it is over, they need better respect so they will keep working on that respect it is a successeful effort.

Beyond these media liars lies the reality, postdocs obviously are working together in this effort to push forward some reformations that will help them respected and paid well besides fullfilling other basic benefits like regular employees. Wherever there is a union effort to bring employees together to fight for their rights, there are bound to be huge anti-union rallys by puppets who are paid agents of union busting activities, especially some paid writers, anti union busting companies news papers and news magazines that work under the disguise that they tell the truth.

It sounds like those postdocs who complained to the university and state labor board seems to be intimidated by peers, colleagues and the so called PIs (people do refer them as Boss, or the PIs refer themselves as Bosses, oh yeah, what boss?). It will not take long enough time for us to discover and learn that this is a terrible act of union busting by the bullies on innocent postdocs, who are intimidated about their career, the present job and their future. The self proclaimed saviors of PostDocs, the national postdoctoral association is a bunch of joke, despite they do not have any record of their own success in helping postdocs to gain better employment package, they keep waging their tails everywhere as if they have any power or ability to bargain, which is pitiable.

What this current director of NPA knows about PIs and Postdoc relations? to bring forth her arguments that this unionization will destroy relationships... No did not!?. What does she know about UCONN Postdocs unionization, they even got the second best contract negotiated successefully and the PIs world did not turn upside down because postdocs got unionized, infact, the respect and life of postdocs after unionization got better and better, because they can afford better child care, because they can afford to have health and dental coverage, because they have access to vacations and leaves as good as a regular employees, because they can now sit with PIs, the University Administration accross the table and discuss the issues and problems and find amicable solutions, whether it is financial matter or work related.

So, what do these union busting people know, except their assumptions and handwavings on innocent postdocs. The worst of these union busting was created by the so called anti-union blogger who posses to the world as though he/she is the greatest soul on earth who fights for the rights, he/she is after all a paid agent of the very union busting agency that might fund NPA. NPA has the tradition of standing in the middle ground, because they cannot stand on their own to institute changes, they do not have any bargaining power, resources or mind set, then how can they help postdocs except for arranging some cynical meetings, conferences and wining and dining in the name of postdoc advocacy. What postdocs need is a voice, a protection and respect, will you ever get this oh NPA?.

But, there is no mention of these acts in the news, only the higher education news article did say some thing along this line that this is not a failure but a good effort that might continue. The other news reports including the one written by the science magazine writer simply assume this unionization is a failure, no it is not a bust you self-imposed postdoc advocates!?. It is just the beginning at UC unionization that will smell the success soon...!

The UAW might have not done enough home work and careful handling of this unionization effort, though the UAW is not the best choice for postdocs and scientists in my view. The UC postdocs need to choose the right union, such as the one we UCONN postdocs affiliated with the AFT or other better unions in California. Neverthless, if UAW came forward to undertake this organizing effort to bring the postdocs together and help them in labor issues, UAWs harwork and interest must be appreciated. As unionizing postdocs is unarguably the most difficult one compared to any other type of employees, to deal with this huge UC postdoc pool is such a huge task and tremendous challenge.

Let us wait for the change of this course, and time will be the best answer.
Here are some of the news, starting from the one I liked "the higher education" news then the others....!!!
Nov. 7
Unionizing Postdocs
They’ve been called “the invisible scientists,” and while that’s probably hyperbole, postdoctoral researchers are, on many university campuses, neither fish nor fowl — not yet professors, and yet no longer students, either. Their numbers have risen steadily in recent years with the increase in biomedical and other research spending, to an estimated 50,000 to 60,000, but the length of time that many postdocs spend in this in-between stage has been growing, too. Also on the rise, among some of them, is frustration at low pay, insufficient benefits and the reality that fewer of them may find a full-time faculty or research job at the end of their stint.
UC Postdoc Union Fizzles
By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
ScienceNOW Daily News2 November 2006An attempt to form what would have been the first major union of postdocs in the United States has ended in failure. But supporters of the controversial effort at the University of California (UC) system say they haven't given up.
U.S. postdocs began joining together more than a decade ago to press for improvements in their working conditions and to clarify their ambiguous status on most campuses. But they have traditionally avoided affiliations with labor unions. So it was a shock to many in the scientific community when the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Workers Union (UAW) filed a petition in July with California's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) seeking to represent 6000 UC postdocs based on having collected a majority of their signatures. Some UC postdocs alleged that UAW representatives had collected signatures from many of their colleagues without fully explaining the implications of forming a union. Under state rules, signing up a simple majority of workers is enough to declare victory.

HERE IS THE STATMENT OF PRO/UAW, though the actual reason according to UAW website is the 100 cards lesser for unionization that are signed by, but due to the intimidation tactics and this STRANGELY, MANIPULATED title change of PostDocs does sound like a foul play?


PRO/UAWThe Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of CaliforniaPostdoctoral Researchers Organize/ International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
CURRENT UPDATE ON PETITION FOR UNION CERTIFICATION:We have withdrawn the petition for certification of the Union that we had filed at the state labor board in July. During the PRO/UAW organizing drive, we did not have a list of all Postdocs working at the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In the course of working through the petition process with the University we learned that 500-600 of the cards we submitted to PERB were from people who identified as Postdocs at the time they signed, but now are not Postdocs and are not on the list, largely due to the transition of Postdoc job titles under APM 390. As a result, we are approximately 100 cards short of majority.PAST UPDATES:
On September 21st, 2006, the Union filed an amended petition with PERB. The amendment excludes Postdoctoral Scholars who are not employees of the University. Please check back here for updates on the progress of the petition.
On August 2, the UC's outside, private counsel filed an objection to our petition at PERB. At no time prior to the filing of these objections did the University ever contact the Union to verify any of the information contained therein. Rather, while there are nearly 6000 postdocs in the University of California system, the University decided to file an objection based on some unsupported and vague claims of a few individuals. Indeed, the University's filing includes only 14 affidavits from postdoctoral fellows. Those individuals allege a range of unclear and general claims that run counter to everything the Union has ever stated about the organizing process, including the clear statements on this very website.
Great news! A strong majority of UC Postdocs statewide have signed up for the Union. The petition has been filed with the state labor board.

So, you have learned the drama so far at the UC campuses. Here is one of the original article about postdocs and their Pathetic status in the academia?/././
May be a good time to refresh your memories with this article:

October 27, 2006

Eating Curry & Cognitive Power?.

Curry may keep elderly minds sharp
Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:11pm ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A diet containing curry may help protect the aging brain, according a study of elderly Asians in which increased curry consumption was associated with better cognitive performance on standard tests.
Curcumin, found in the curry spice turmeric, possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

October 02, 2006

Genome Dance -Dancing Science & Weslyan University of Connecticut

“The genome dance project got me thinking that there may be many more untapped ways to make science matter to non-scientists.”Emily Jacobs-Palmer
As Ferocious Beauty: Genome draws to a close, the dancers
swirl, surrounded by deep blues, stark whites, and the sounds
of the sea—symbolic of their species' origin.

Emily Jacobs-Palmer finds some of today's political and social attitudes toward science appalling. "I want to live in a world that respects scientists and values our work," says the molecular biology and biochemistry major, a senior at Wesleyan University. To create such a world, however, Jacobs-Palmer believes science must become more accessible—more comprehensible and interesting—to the general public.

It never occurred to her that one path to that goal might be through dance. Then she met Liz Lerman, winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Lerman was spending the year as an artist-in-residence at Wesleyan, while she choreographed Ferocious Beauty: Genome, a dance about the human genome.

2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine is out!

October 02, 2006 HHMI Investigator Craig C. Mello Wins 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute announced this morning that the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Craig C. Mello, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Andrew Z. Fire at Stanford University School of Medicine. The two were honored for their discovery of RNA interference - gene-silencing by double-stranded RNA.

– Andrew Z. Fire, the Stanford University geneticist who today (Monday, Oct. 2) shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is an alumnus of UC Berkeley's mathematics department, having whizzed through Cal in a mere three years before moving on to graduate school at the age of 19.

September 15, 2006

Breaking E.Coli News!!!

Simply Avoid Bagged Spinach for the moment, why? Recent illness and one death due to E.coli infection through bagged spinach. Read the following news....

Killer E. coli outbreak spreads

Health officials are trying to find the source of a multistate E. coli outbreak and they're warning consumers that bagged spinach may be the source. One person has died and dozens of others have been sickened in the 10-state outbreak. The FDA is warning people not to eat bagged spinach and says washing it won't solve the problem because the bacteria is too tightly attached.

Some Tips to Consider!!!

Skype-the whole world can talk for free??.
Sounds like a scam, but this is a real free telephone service, the free service is going to be available till end of this year. All you have to do is to download skype program, call up anywhere within US or Canada free either on a mobile or landline. You can make calls from your PC. I am using right now to make longdistance and conference calls, the voice and lines are terrific, clear and no background noise or interruption. The calls once placed are disturbed in the middle of conversation like those damn paid calling cards or sometime our cell phones, that make croaky frog like noises. You know I go over lots of minutes in cell phone most of the time, then end of miserable to go out to call or add more minutes for a ridiculous, day time robbery by the cell phone companies. A friend of mine once mentioned use skpe, whe she said, I thought very casually about skype, but when I checked the website, I decided to download, it takes just less than two minutes and about 5 minutes, you will be on the phone anywhere. Your Pc or desktop must have microphone, the skype download will help you to initiate calls and several features to use. So, another free service with fine quality and reliable service...skpe. So, when they meant the whole world can talk free, not neccessarily you can take it for granted to call world wide, they do have paid service to call accross the globe, it is too much to ask for a free world wide call. From US, we can all all US and Canada, similarly in every continent, I believe they have free service, like whole of Europe, whole of Asia. But, accross the globe, one must buy some service from skype. Hey...who cares, we can call the whole US and Canada for free.........thanks skype.

Some Tips to Consider!!

I am not realy sure how long this service existed, I found out today that there is something realy free, I used to pay for directory assistance, about a buck and half. But, I checked this company, it is real free directory assitance, they will provide you the telephone number you are looking for in your or any locality. Either call the above number or go online and do the search. I believe that this company might compensate their service expenses by the advertisement that comes after you ask for the number, but you do not need to worry about it, in seconds you will be provided the number you want once you give the city name and name of the business or place. If the automated message can't help you, an attender will respond to you. This is certainly a good service for free....immmmmmmmm there is free lunch in America, though it is very rare???.

September 07, 2006

PRO/UAW-University of California????

PostDoc World News:
The Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California
Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/ International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of

So here it is after Uconn Health Center, it is UC...!!
Great news! A strong majority of UC Postdocs statewide have signed up for
the Union. The petition has been filed with the state labor board.

Update: On August 2, the UC's outside, private counsel filed an objection to
our petition at PERB. At no time prior to the filing of these objections did the
University ever contact the Union to verify any of the information contained
therein. Rather, while there are nearly 6000 postdocs in the University of
system, the University decided to file an objection based on some

unsupported and vague claims of a few individuals. Indeed, the University's
filing includes only 14 affidavits from postdoctoral fellows. Those individuals
allege a range of unclear and general claims that run counter to everything
the Union has ever stated about the organizing process, including the clear
statements on this very website.

What is the UC graduate association site says about PostDoc unionization???

Postdoctoral Scholars Union Representation Information

The following information is intended to serve as a guide for you as the union representation campaign unfolds. Postdoctoral Scholars (Postdocs) play a dual role as fellows engaged in mentored advanced training and as employees or fellows contributing to UCLA's research programs. A policy, Academic Personnel Manual, Section 390 (APM 390) (PDF-175KB), acknowledges the distinct role of UC Postdocs, including a comprehensive benefits package comparable to the plan offered to Faculty/Staff.

Under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), employees have the right to organize and form a collective bargaining unit. The UAW, the union who represents Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at the University (Teaching Assistants, Readers and Tutors), is seeking to form a bargaining unit for postdoctoral scholars and researchers. Union organizers may circulate at the workplace and ask for signatures on a card. You have the right to choose; however, signing the card is the same as voting “yes” for union representation.
Additional websites:

The information below will help Postdoctoral Scholars and Researchers make an informed decision about union representation.

September 01, 2006


Scientists in the academic areas have various opinions about "UNIONS", especially about PostDoc unions. The views and opinions of unions can vary from either positive or negative perceptions about unions through the observations of the way unions funtion. Some of them agree that unions can help postdocs, some outrightly reject unions and yet another bunch just confused and have no clear idea.

Whatever those thoughts and opinions of the above category of academicians, in truth, all those perceptions and views on union stem from one's personal knowledge about union, one's personal experience or exposures to how unions function, or perhaps due to extremely well informed and throughouly learned thoughts OR due to poorly informed and ill thought feelings about unions.

Whatever?. A change is invitable in the academic structure and policies, because we can't live anymore in academy with the approach of 1870's. As I had mentioned elsewhere, PostDoc is a must for academic progress, but there are harldy any matching opportunities for all the postdocs, very insignificant number of postdocs only are able to gain faculty jobs.

There are not many faculty jobs, and the current status of PostDocs needs a change and overaual to meet this challenge. As more and more postdocs toil away their young years in lab in the name of training, it is absolutely painful to see PostDocs are exploited in labs without

proper pay, benefits and other employee packages. While it is unpractical and tough to create more faculty jobs to accommodate many postdocs, what is practical, reasonable and acceptable is to raise the package to postdocs equitable so that they can appreciate that they are employees and not worry about low pay, no respect and unnecessary burnouts. What is bothering here is that these PIs, administration and funding bodies knew all these facts but knowing these facts, they did not take enough effort to make changes in due time. As a result, postdocs everywhere are increasingly consious about their poor status and are working on their own to improve the cituation. IGNORANCE is never a good thing, whether it is academic or non-academic.

The election to unionized took place on August 28, 2003 [please see the news in AFT website below]. The resutls were announced end of the day of election, with the majority votes were in favor of union. This 2003 unionization event is the first of its kind, for the first time in the US history, PostDocs at the UCONN Health Center, following three year struggle to make policy changes that they could not ahcieve any changes as beeing a part of PostDoc association. They sought the right path to get things solved in favor of postdocs. The PostDocs Unionized in August 2003 . All the PostDocs worked hard with deligent steps to form a union by joining hands with the local UHP [University Health Professionals], which is an affiliate of the AFT [American Federation of Teachers]. Thereafter, within 6 month, they got the first contract nailed down, making the UCONN PostDocs best paid and best compensated in all respects. The Beautiful Congradulatory Cake above is for the first PostDoc Union contract success, inside the Cake is the most beautiful and elegant UCONN Conn Health Center, a very unique and complicated architexture provides whole beauty to the town of Farmington. I had my lab and computer desk and a microscope room at the fourth floor of this gorgeous building, I can never forget this building, work and all the wonderful experiences of UCONN Health Center, infact, my postdoc productivity was an outstanding one while I was fighting for PostDoc Unionization, both ended in great success.
UConn Postdocs Vote for Union

Postdoctoral fellows at the University of Connecticut Health Center made history on Aug. 28 by voting for representation by the University Health Professionals (UHP), an 1,800-member AFT Connecticut affiliate. The 138-member unit--possibly among the first postdocs in the country to join a union--took the first step towards better salaries, more respect and greater control over the direction of professional training. Calling the vote a "tremendous victory," AFT Connecticut president Sharon Palmer praised the perseverance and resolve of the unit, noting, "The postdocs have endured much hardship because of their commitment to science. Today they have taken action to gain a voice in the workplace and still maintain their commitment to their work."

The victory culminates a two-year fight for representation. Facing long hours, low wages and a lack of vacation time and sick days, postdoc organizers gathered enough support to file cards in December 2002--at which point the university raised a series of legal challenges to the election.
This week's victory validates the organizers' efforts and demonstrates that legal trickery cannot block the will of the unit members. The university will now have to go through the union in dealing with the postdocs, said UHP president Jean Morningstar, adding that she is looking forward to including the fellows in the union contract. "This election was always about respect and equity," said postdoctoral fellow John Wagner. With the election victory in hand, the fellows are especially eager to address their training in more detail in the contract.

The postdocs typically enter fellowships to gain specialized training that is important in the scientific market, so it is crucial that the right training be offered, says Wagner. [Mark Henson, AFT

UHP president Gene Morningstar, giving the celeberatory talk, standing besides Gene is Dr.Peter J.Deckers, who is the CEO of UCONN Health Center waiting to give a talk and to congradulate the postdocs, followed by Cake cutting.

The First ever postdoc union formed at the Uconn Health Center in 2004, following the unionization within a year a contract was negotiated satisfactorily. Two of the postdoc seen signing the very first contract that was negotiated successefully with the administration. Also seen in the background are UHP union reps and faculty reps.
Very Latest PostDoc Union News

Postdoc Unionization Drive Reaches a Climax in California

Beryl Lieff Benderly
United States
1 September 2006

In the annals of the American labor movement, contested unionization campaigns are a common story, often involving downtrodden workers struggling against the concerted opposition of wealthy, powerful, even malign employers. This Labor Day weekend, however, the postdocs on the University of California’s (UC) ten campuses are embroiled in a unionization dispute that violates that time-honored script. The cast includes union organizers who claim to have the support of most UC postdocs, an employer that asserts neutrality, and an unknown number of postdocs who oppose the union and are working to defeat its efforts to organize their approximately 5800 colleagues.

If the union, which is known as PRO/UAW (its official title is Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), has valid signatures from 50%-plus-one of UC’s postdocs as it claims, unionization is automatic under state law. If it lacks 50%-plus-one but has 30%-plus-one, an election will be held to decide the issue. Opponents, however, are urging postdocs who have already given the union their signed consent to fight unionization by formally withdrawing their signatures.

The State of the Union

Beryl Lieff Benderly
United States
3 March 2006

Two years ago this month, the nation’s first postdoc union, University Health Professionals (UHP) at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) in Farmington, overwhelmingly ratified its first contract. The pact provided higher pay, improved benefits, and a robust grievance procedure. Supporters of postdoc unions hoped it would launch a national movement. Detractors, meanwhile, feared it would damage postdocs’ relations with their advisers and their career prospects.

To date, neither prediction has come true. The contract quickly became the new normal in UCHC labs, where postdocs are only one category of workers in the long-established union, Local 3837 of the AFL-CIO-affiliated American Federation of Teachers. Right now, UHP and UCHC are conducting their regular quadrennial negotiations to renew the contract that covers postdocs and more than 1000 other UHP members. The talks are proceeding amicably, says UHP president Jean Morningstar, who foresees "no problems" and expects a new agreement to be ratified in the spring. Use the link for full article.......................!!!!?????.

A Union Contract Aimed at Preserving the Postdoc Experience

Beryl Lieff Benderly
United States
2 April 2004

Last summer, the postdocs at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) voted narrowly to join a labor union. On 16 March they voted overwhelmingly--80 to 5--to ratify what is believed to be the nation's first collective bargaining agreement specifically for postdocs. Negotiated by UCHC and the union, University Health Professionals (UHP), also known as Local 3837 of the AFL-CIO-affiliated American Federation of Teachers, the pact was hailed by both sides as fair and sensitive to postdocs' special status as both employees and trainees. It grants sharply improved pay and benefits and establishes UCHC's first minimum postdoc salary.

Provisions of the agreement

Unionization and Education: A Faculty View

Beryl Lieff Benderly

United States
16 January 2004

University unions are much in the news these days. In early December 2003 an agreement between the University of California and United Auto Workers Local 2865, bargaining agent for 11,000 teaching assistants, tutors, and readers on the UC system's eight undergraduate teaching campuses, narrowly averted a strike scheduled for final exam week. Negotiations also began between the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) in Farmington and University Health Professionals, the American Federation of Teachers local that represents the nation's first unionized postdocs.

The California contract covers only students involved in teaching, said Rajan Mehta, head union steward for the Berkeley campus, where he is a graduate student in math. "Research assistants are not currently organized under our union, or at all." Local 2865, however, is "considering" moving toward unionization of students employed in on-campus research. By a vote of 1628 to 26, members of the statewide union of so-called academic student employees ratified the 3-year contract granting them an immediate and retroactive 1.5% pay increase, future pay hikes tied to faculty raises, and continued complete remission of tuition and fees (including health care fees) despite recent, sharp increases in these charges. The union also won enhanced access to incoming graduate students. In light of California's present financial distress, this is considered a good settlement, Mehta added.

What Will Unions Bring to Postdocs?

Unionized Postdocs Unaffected by Decision Denying Union Right to Brown University Grad Assistants

Beryl Lieff Benderly
United States
6 August 2004

Fifty years ago, on 17 May 1954, the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education vastly expanded the rights of African-American students. The half-century commemorations had hardly ended, however, when, on 13 July 2004, another legal decision named Brown had the opposite effect on another group of students. In a case called Brown University, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that graduate assistants teaching courses and working in labs, libraries, museums, and offices on the private campus in Providence have no right to form a labor union.

Can Labor Unions Work for Postdocs?
Beryl Lieff Benderly
United States
3 October 2003

In August, the postdocs at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) opened a new chapter in postdoc history and a new round in the debate over how best to improve postdoc working conditions. They voted to join University Health Professionals (UHP), a local of an AFL-CIO-affiliated national labor union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). UHP is a long-established bargaining unit at UCHC, representing 1900 of their 5000 employees. With their vote, this medical campus's 138 postdocs came to constitute the newest of UHP's approximately 170 job categories. Led and trained by experienced AFT negotiators, postdoc leaders will soon meet university officials at the bargaining table to work out a contract.............

August 30, 2006

PostDocs-in India??

To my knowledge, there is no PostDoc culture or PostDoc positions in Indian Universities, if at all, it might be rare in few places. So, I was surprised pleasantly to see an article about postdocs in India, the following article discuss issues about postdocs in India. Normally, graduates after recieving their PhD move out of India to west or europe and other places to do their postdoctoral fellowship. There are not much postdoc positions and it is not common few years ago, this article is probably one of the very few I found that talk about retaining the graduates in India and create postdoc position for them in India. Not a bad idea at all, but will it work?. Who will fund them and where is the money?.

Will the graduates stay in India to do a postdoc in India is another question.
March 20, 2006 Volume 84, Number 12 pp. 16-17

Keeping Postdocs At Home In India

A vibrant postdoc culture could invigorate India's research climate, but recruiting remains difficult

Amanda Yarnell
Photo by Amanda Yarnell

For India's fresh Ph.D. graduates, the lure of a postdoctoral position abroad remains irresistible. "If there were a chance to get a good position in India without an international postdoc, I would have done it," explains Govindaraju Thimmaiah, who completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune and is currently working as a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "But I felt I had no choice."

August 28, 2006

Hello Postdocs-Are you listening??

PostDocs, here is a lesson for you all postdocs of the world!?.
The following JYI from the website: will explain you about how and when this group of undergraduate started their own scientific journal: "The Journal of Young Investigators". Wow, what a fantastic idea and brilliance of this undergraduates. I am not sure if this postdocs have any such journals for them run by postdocs. In my five year postdoc experience, I hardly seen or heard postdocs getting involved in peer-reviews, manuscript reviews and other editorial related works as experts.

Ever since my first postdoctoral year till date, I got involved in peer-reviews, project proposal reviews, manuscript and even postdocs candidate selection reviews. It is important for postdocs to get involved in such areas that will help them to become better communicators in writing and handling research publication related issues. The PIs are not going to worry about if you know any of these or not, as long as you produce data and prepare the manuscript for publications. While there is serious lack of basic mentoring by PIs in labs, how can you expect PIs support in seeing his/her postdoc doing extraordinary jobs like review process involements, you have to do it yourself and it is your academic life that you must take responsiblities. Here is a lesson for all you postdocs from some bright undergrduate kids/young scientists in the making!?.

What is JYI?
JYI, Inc. is a exciting, student-led initiative to broaden the scope of the undergraduate scientific experience. JYI provides opportunities for students to participate in the scientific review and publication processes, primarily through the operation of its peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates. Incorporated as a non-profit, entirely student-run corporation, JYI's staff members currently represent over 30 different academic institutions. JYI has been featured in EurekAlert!, Chemical Engineering News, and The Chronicle on Higher Education. Recently, an article highlighting JYI appeared in The New York Times (17 February 1999).

What is the web journal and what is its purpose?
JYI's web journal (which is also called JYI) is dedicated to the presentation of undergraduate research in science, mathematics, and engineering. It publishes the best submissions from undergraduates, with an emphasis on both the quality of research and the manner in which it is communicated. The journal, JYI, also allows students to experience the other side of the scientific publication process: the review process. Students working with their faculty advisors review the work of their peers and determine whether that work is acceptable for publication in JYI.

How does JYI improve undergraduate science training?
If undergraduate education is to best prepare individuals for future participation in the scientific research community, then it clearly must include an introduction to the scientific research enterprise in its entirety. While many efforts to improve undergraduate science education are focusing on the important goal of making a student's experience more experiential and research-oriented, JYI is focusing on the rest of the problem: how to introduce students to the exercise of communicating their research, reviewing and being reviewed by peers, and other aspects of publishing and disseminating scientific information.

JYI focuses on providing this introduction to two groups of students - authors and editors. For student authors, JYI recognizes that they are likely to have little experience in scientific writing and in a peer-reviewed publication system. JYI therefore helps guide these students towards more effective scientific communication by encouraging them to publish their research and then helping them to develop their skills. Student editors - the other group of students - receive an in-depth experience in which they are trained as scientific reviewers and engaged in a dialog concerning the methods and future of scientific publishing. Recently, JYI's student editors gathered at the journal's annual editorial conference to discuss scientific publishing and participate in workshops lead by senior editors of Science Magazine. When these JYI authors and editors become professionals, they will be informed and experienced in issues concerning scientific publishing and will be effective communicators and reviewers.

For more information on specific aspects of JYI, please visit our other web pages.

August 21, 2006

The Gazzette!! News & Views

"petri dishes"THE WORLD IS CHANGING RAPIDLY" this is exactly what the 24 member faculty committee recognized in their recent committee meeting, the meeting was held to discuss issues around education and research, especially to bring out improvements in undergraduate education and research at Harvard. The plan is to enhance the current undergraduate education system with hands on experience. This is a new concept that is making way into education and higher education these days. So, the need to change the teachng and learning aproach of science subjects is finaly reaching the right places, initially it was debated that school children's must be provided chances in hands on experience, it now slowely spreading from the secondary school education level to the undergraduate level courses. Especially considering the amount of interests student will develop by doing few basic scientific experiments or involving in this "the hands on" approach. I believe it is a good idea, because doing a little bit of basic science as part of hands on experiments can promote more interests in science among the students. A preliminary report from a faculty committee makes recommendations about the future of science at Harvard. (Photo © Harvard News Office).
Here is the article from Harvard Gazzatte!! check the url address....

Science Committee issues preliminary report. Calls for supporting a wide range of approaches to science education and research in Longwood, Allston, and Cambridge

A committee of 24 leading scientists from across Harvard University - five department chairs and one dean - have produced a preliminary set of proposals for "enhancing science and engineering at Harvard" that range from continuing to invest in traditional "core disciplines" to transforming the teaching of science by implementing "hands-on learning as a cornerstone in undergraduate science and engineering education."

PostDocs-Best Places to Work

PostDocs #1. The David J. Gladstone Institutes at the UCSF.

Interesting to note that J.David Gladstone Institute is picked up by the scientist survey as the best places for postdocs to work, infact the number one among the first places for postdocs. I was in University of California, Berkely campus a couple of years ago for a postdoc meeting, this was the first ever national level postdoc meeting that was organized by UC postdocs and postdoc wellwishers at this place, I found these postdocs are quite outspoken about the problems and issues of postdoc community, they are courageous and forward thinking to bring ideas into action, this is not at all surprising that they got the first place in the survey. I believe that the president and administrators here at the Gladstone are doing a pretty good job in helping and shaping postdocs for their future.

PosDocs- NewZealand

New Zealand-NZ

In the postdocs around section, this page will update news and happenings in NewZeland and the postdoc world in NewZeland.
The New Zealand Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme is intended to foster the development of New Zealand's emerging scientists and future science leaders. It complements other Government initiatives to develop a knowledge society which will assist New Zealand to compete successfully as a knowledge economy. Funding is available for postdoctoral fellowships and to provide bridge to employment support.

August 17, 2006


**The Latest News about Postdoc union:

UAW Petition Filed with the University of California

| | |

Attention UCLA Postdoctoral Scholars:

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has filed a petition with the University of California for exclusive representation of postdoctoral scholars on all ten UC campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. As a condition of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the attached notice must be posted conspicuously on all employee bulletin boards in each facility where postdoctoral scholars are employed.

**NIH-NRSA fellowship is added with extra cash for New Medical Health insurance coverage??
Notice of New NIH Policy for Funding of Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance on Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards

Notice Number: NOT-OD-06-090

Key Dates
Release Date: August 4, 2006

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (

The NIH announces a change in policy for funding of tuition, fees, and health insurance costs for NRSA Postdocs. The new policy applies to new and competing-continuation (renewal) NRSA institutional research training grants (T32, T34, and T35) beginning in fiscal year (FY) FY 2007, and competing individual fellowships (F30, F31, F32, and F33) awarded beginning in FY 2007. It also applies to institutional research training grants that received competing awards in FY 2006. For this cohort, the FY2007 non-competing awards will be issued recalculating budget categories to reflect this new policy.

August 15, 2006

PostDoc Activities & Organizations

PostDocs often left out without proper channels of advice and support, however there are some good local associations that provide some basic help, some of them are listed below.

1. Baylor Postdoctoral Association

Baylor College of Medicine is one of several research centers where the postdoc community is quite big, lots of postdocs work at Baylor. They have got this sense of helping each other through this association. PostDocs will be able to find information related to visa, travel, jobs and other social activities using this site.

2. Brown University Postdoctoral Association

The association in short called BUPA?. Again, the site provides assistance to postdocs for housing in Providence, RI. Benefits, visa, international student relations and other postdoc related information. The following report and points from BUPA's recent meeting will tell the story that postdocs are struggling to fix issues around benefits, salary, leaves and more.

1. Clarify Brown’s definition of a postdoc. The two most common titles are postdoctoral research associate and postdoctoral fellow. The university has no consistent method for defining postdocs across all departments. Also, postdocs should be promoted to the title of Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate after three years, and to Research Scientist after six years.

2. Provide equal benefits to all postdocs. In general, postdoctoral research associates are university employees and receive full benefits as employees. Postdoctoral fellows generally bring their own funding, and thus are not considered Brown employees. Therefore they do not receive university benefits. This system leads to inequities within departments and labs, and unintentionally punishes postdocs for seeking independent funding. The report recommends that the University provide Fellows access to health and dental benefits at the same individual costs as they are provided to associates. The additional cost must be provided by the department, program, or the institutional allowance of the individual’s grant. Implementing this will be quite difficult, requiring lots of work to assure that the changes are legal and in accordance with tax regulations.

3. The report does not recommend implementing university-wide salary minimums. The large differences in the market pressures for different departments makes this impractical. Salary should, however, be closely monitored by the mechanism recommended in point four.

4. A postdoc liason will be created within the Office of the Vice President of Research to work with BUPA. The liason will assist with organizing events and programs, gather information for distribution to postdocs, maintain information on current postdocs, and help develop grievance procedures for postdocs.

3.Stanford University Postdoctoral Association, in short: SUPD?

Stanford Universitiy Postdoc Association is one of the most powerful and influential associations in US, because of the sear strength of number of postdocs, there are about 1500 postdocs, wow!?. But yet, they are not free from issues or problems of benefits to child care and what not?.

What kind of PostDoc Help is available in the following places?

This section is under construction


University of Connecticut
Stanford University
Johns Hopkins University
University of California
Yale University
Harvard University
Brown University
New York University
Columbia University

Scripps Research Institute
Howard Hughes

NIH postdocs
NSF postdocs

August 10, 2006

Links & Resources of News

UK Graduate Union
PostDocs are associate members of graduate union, though postdocs do not have their own union.
What's PdOC About?

PdOC is looking for motivated people with innovative ideas to join us and help both current and future generations of Postdocs at Cambridge. We are a young organisation run by Postdocs for Postdocs. Established in 2001, in the years since its inception PdOC has flourished and grown, establishing a strong track record in achieving goals that have been identified university-wide by Postdocs.

PostDocs in Canada, PostDocs fate? Dismantling the trap

So how do we end this shameful waste of talent? Some have suggested that granting agencies should waste less money on students, since many students must eventually abandon their careers or leave the country. However, this approach does nothing to solve the present problem, and worse, it is fatally shortsighted. Canada needs highly trained and dedicated scientists.
As well, with professors facing cutbacks, shrinking faculties and increased teaching and administrative loads, grad students and postdocs do an increasing share of the research in Canadian universities. Staunch the flow of graduate students and Canadian research would be choked. But this is no excuse for creating a class of well-trained, disposable indentured servants. If we must produce highly qualified people, it's time to offer them opportunities to use their expertise to benefit us all. To do otherwise isn't merely unjust, it's immeasurably wasteful.

Steven Smith can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (902) 494-3335 or by fax at (902) 494-3736. University Affairs also welcomes your letters in response to this article.

Read more from the above Link!!!

there's a continuing crisis in the postdoctoral enterprise: Many postdocs are underpaid and overworked, with little prestige or status to show for their efforts; often, they are treated simply as extra workers, with few opportunities to be mentored or to expand their skills; and, in a job market that continues to remain tight, they are having less success landing those coveted academic positions. Such concerns can even drive undergraduates away from science and into more lucrative fields such as law or medicine.
And anywhere there's a group of highly educated, highly motivated people willing to fight for change, the situation is bound to get better. Postdocs around the country are airing their grievances, reaching out to administrators, even forming unions. And they're getting results. The progress is especially noticeable at Stanford, where fewer and fewer top-flight researchers feel like second-class citizens.

"Heart-Wrenching" Stories
At Stanford, the tide began to turn in 1999 when a group of disgruntled postdocs decided to speak out.

August 02, 2006


Slaves to science
For post-docs, finding a supernova is easier than finding a job.
- - - - -By William Speed Weed Feb. 28, 2000
[If you never read this article, it is worth spending some time in reading, an insightful article about postdocs, I admire William Speed Weed for his courage to tell the truth about postdocs are treated like slaves in the academia!?. Here is the link for the article.

This Blog:-


Who are these Little Masters?
These little masters are often given titles such as "postdocs", "postdoctoral fellows", "postdoctoral researcher", "postdoctoral associate", "and postdoctoral scholar". In truth, they toil their life to get this PhD (more than half of life, the most young and prime part of life) goes to earning PhD, the remaining most energetic and efficient part goes to doing post PhD POSTDOC [their academic life and family life is one of the toughest times during postdoc due to low salary, benefits, child care issues, leave/vacation issues, lack of mentoring, lack of independency, among the most difficult issue is to find out a job after postdocs, as there are not many faculty jobs opportunities for the postdocs. Though there are some alternative areas of job opportunities, the postdocs are in most cases academically prepared and thier preference is to be oriented to academy].

What is the Current Postdoc Scenario:-

Doing a postdoc is no longer a luxury or at will training as it was used to be in 1876 or early 1900s. In the initial few decades of the origin of this "POSTDOC", taking up a postdoc was considered to be a voluntary move of an individual to broaden one's background. It was not a mandatory/important requirement to do a postdoc in order to get into a permanent academic position (Asst Professor, or other faculty jobs). However, the scenario is quite different now. There is a significant growth in the academia, the top stakeholders of the academic layer benefited from the changes that took place in the last four or five decades, while postdoc and their fate remained unattended or seen only minimal changes in salary hike occurred instead of looking into this issue with sincere plan.

So we now know that to do a POSTDOC is a must or unavoidable part of one's academic career to move onto a faculty currently. Considering too many highly qualified young scientists chasing around to find out their own project or independent roles in academy, it is not only tough to achieve but it is impractical.

Considering the fact that there are about 100 applicants for 1 Asst Prof Position vacant at a given university or institutions in USA. If this is the case, there is a NEED for a change in improving the current postdoctoral system. Too many Postdocs but too little faculty opportunity, the academic system, PIs and funding agents did not care much to make changes to improve the postdoc's career or job status. So, postdoc of the present days became a type of intellectual slaves, highly educated and poorly paid with inadequate benefits and insecurity throughout their role as a postdoc.

Some call "postdoc" as a kind of training or apprentice to further one's job opportunities. Others call it as an employment!?. Most others say that postdocs are used as "extra pair’s of hands in most of labs. Despite the fact that postdocs are well trained, highly intelligent and extremely hard working, there is hardly any freedom or ability to run their own science project............this is the gray area where improvements can be made by the institutions/universities and the funding bodies like NIH and NSF so that the postdocs move on in the academic ladder, instead they will be wasting lot of time in just thinking about what are they going to do next about their academic future or job prospectives?.

What is the Most authoritative Organization (NAS) think about Postdoc issues:
The frustration of the postdoc issues and their problems was and is constantly debated at the most prestigious "National Academic Borards.

The National Academies Press: Home The National Academies: Home
Read more than 3,600 books online FREE! More than 1000 PDFs now available for sale
The board members represnted from all the scientific areas came out with a recommendation, which can be found in the following publication. Every postdoc, PI, and postdoc related administrators must read this book. For your convenience, I am putting the cover page of the book, I also copied from the book a portion of the "Executive Summary". Just this alone clearly summarises postdocs issues, it is good to know that postdocs got the attention of the highest governing body in science and research, and they are talking about postdocs. This is a good book to read.
Recomended by Muni, 08/10/2006
The book & details of the book, if you are not able to buy, watch out on the website for a free downloadable PDF format of the book, you can read it right on the website or perhaps, I am not sure if you can copy it to your computer, just check out.

Read this book online, free! Click here to proceed to linked table of contents

Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers:

A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies

Book Cover

Status: Available Now

Size: 212 pages, 6 x 9

Publication Year:2000

Below is the executive summary:
Executive Summary

The concept of a postdoctoral scholar in science and engineering arose about a century ago when a handful of PhD researchers were awarded small stipends for the purpose of augmenting their skills and experience. The postdoctoral population in the United States, after decades of gradual growth, leapt ahead quickly in the 1980s and now outnumbers the graduate student population at some US institutions. The total number of postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs, has grown to an estimated 52,000. [this is a old estimate, it is crossed 60,000 and more by now!).

The primary purpose of the postdoctoral experience is to broaden and deepen the research and other skills that are required for a significant contribution to society and satisfying, professional employment. Ideally, this is accomplished through the guidance of an adviser in whose laboratory or department the postdoc works; the administrative and infrastructural support of the host institution; the financial support of a funding organization; and the professional development support of a disciplinary society.

The postdoctoral experience does not always succeed in its educational purpose. In some cases, the postdoc is poorly matched with the research setting; in others, there is little opportunity for growth toward independence, guidance is poor, or a mentoring relationship fails to develop. Sometimes mentors, institutions, and funding organizations have been slow to assign postdocs the status, recognition, and compensation that are commensurate with their skills and contributions to research.

For their part, many postdocs express frustration at their low professional status and inability to fulfill their own expectations to mature as professional researchers, collaborate productively with colleagues (and advisers), and advance in their careers toward rewarding professional positions. While some of this frustration results from a job market that, in some fields, has fewer positions than it does good candidates, it also reflects inadequate administrative attention to mechanisms of the experience that can and should be rectified. In considering needed improvements, it is essential to recognize that the situations of postdocs vary markedly from discipline to discipline and between academic and non-academic settings. Postdocs vary in proficiency; some are quite experienced with little need for guidance, while others are apprentices who require substantial coaching. They also vary in their rate of growth; some learn quickly while others require more time to develop sufficient knowledge and skills to move to the next stage of their career. Moreover, slightly more than half of US postdocs are non-US citizens, many of whom face additional challenges of acculturation and language.

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.