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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:

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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.