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February 23, 2012

PostDoc Unions, almost a Decade in the Making....How is it going?.

Uconn Health Center PostDocs& a Mission to Unionize: 
The first ever fully functional PostDoc Union in the world was formed during 2003 (refer the UCONN PostDoc Union chronology in this blog).  It is almost 10 years since our fight to unionize the postdocs, and the 10 years to be completed next year 2013.  This decade is one of the most remarkable 10 years in the history of scientific research, academia  and in the history of  postdocs. Furthermore, it is a remarkable event as far as the plights of Postdocs concerned, as far as the welfare of young, hardworking and highly qualified broken scientists concerned?.  For those who want a change in Academic structure, the postdoc union will show the way...!
I was one of the first to involve in the postdoc unionization at the UCONN medical campus, and was also one of those who were in the front row of leading this initiative and postdoc union foundation. However, we were fortunate and thankful to those have been fighting without much success on resolving postdoc needs and issues in the preceding years before us, for about three years preceding the 2003 success. The failures of them during the late 1990s, toil of many of the Uconn Health center postdocs gave us a path to laid our success in the later years. However it was not without toil, pain and some suffering if not all the postdocs but by some postdocs who have been intimated and threatened, warned to be suspended or dismissed from postdocs and so on.At the outset, everything was straightened up, ironed out and the first PostDoc Union was born at the Uconn Medical school campus (UCHC). I can never forget all those days, activities, people involved and the local union that spearheaded our mission to integrate PostDocs into their association for recognition, honor and equal respect, ofcourse the equity and power to negotiate.
The decade is in completion, there were many campuses in US and Canada propelled by our success and they embraced this mission, the fruition is seen spectacularly in none other than the largest Postdoc group, the UC campuses.
I am no longer a PostDoc, soon after the complete negotiation was done and about a year after the Uconn Health center postdoc union was in full force, I moved out of my research field, infact moved into medical and health care industry long time ago. Since then I had gone up in the ladder of success multifold far beyond a University Professor or a Dean or Director can achieve in every sphere of work or life, including a big salary. As a matter of fact I have my own health care practice and a small business company in medical field. But, all these changes in life and sky high progress I made did not change my concern or interest or helping PostDocs. As a matter of fact, I am still thrilled to look back and enjoy the work we have done, albeit not a postdoc I still think and feel about the postdocs in US and all over the world.  They need respect and must be treated with equity they deserve. I am sure the fire we set at UCHC has picked up speed and spreading exponentially, I am enjoying the fact that postdocs world is getting better, and better. Quite gratifying   to be part of the postdoc union mission, as one of the Pioneers and front row leader, I can say now that  "PostDoc Union Mission Accomplished".!. For those who are still struggling, learn the lesson from your peers and the pioneers.
And here is the latest updates from UC campuses and other Union lenient Universities across.
Updates:
2011 Year in Review and Plans for 2012

Dear UC Postdocs,

With our first full calendar year as a union now over, we thought we would summarize what we accomplished working together and lay out our expected roadmap for the year ahead. We are interested in your feedback and participation, so please like us on Facebook or contact your campus rep to let us know what you think!

Wage Increases
2011 was the first full year in which postdocs worked under a contract. Thanks to your involvement and support, thousands of postdocs received first-ever guaranteed experience-based raises upon reappointment. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced a stipend increase of 2% in 2012, meaning that each of our experience-based salary steps will increase by 2% in 2012. This makes UC postdocs among the best compensated in the country, an achievement we were only able to deliver thanks to your courage and willingness to stand together.
******************************************************
Big News – Pay Scale Set to Increase by 2% in 2012
Dear UC Postdocs,

Great news – the National Institute of Health (NIH) has just announced that its Ruth Kirschstein NRSA stipends will increase by 2% for fiscal year 2012 – meaning that the minimum pay scale for UC postdocs will also increase by that amount. In other words, for all UC postdocs hired on or after June 1, 2011, each experience-based minimum salary step is now increased by 2%. Salary increases go into effect when postdocs are newly appointed, reappointed, or on the anniversary date for those with multiple year appointments.For complete information about compensation, read our contract. As you know, there has been tremendous pressure in Washington over the past year to cut funding for research. This news punctuates all of the hard work done by our members, both in terms of fighting cuts to the NIH and in standing together to bargain as a group.
***********************************
Post Docs at UMass Boston and Dartmouth, Bargaining initiated:

Bargaining Updates

The following UMass Amherst postdocs have been elected by acclamation to the Bargaining Team.  We will have more updates within the next week as postdocs at UMass Boston and Dartmouth elect their representatives.

UMass Amherst Bargaining Team Members
Jing Su, Chemical Engineering
My background and experience serves well on the tasks of the negotiation team. In college and graduate school I have the experience of organizing campaigns, from which I learned how to listen, coordinate, negotiate, compromise, and reach constructive solutions. As a postdoc, my situations (married, foreign, having kids, and with academic career goals) allow me understanding and grasping the crucial needs and concerns of postdocs of various background. My working experience for PRO/UAW as a volunteer makes me familiar with the goals and tasks of the campaign. During calling and talking with postdocs on behalf of PRO/UAW, I not only attained the firsthand feedbacks of the concerns and needs from postdocs of different background, but also I found my real passion.
I hope I could contribute my experience and passion as a member of the Bargaining Committee and serve the needs of postdocs.
*************************************
to be updated..

1 comment:

drmuni said...

The "Science magazine" and Nature folks have no originality when it comes to write about postdoc issues, let me give an example, after I posted this Feb 22, 2012 article about a Decade of PostDoc Union and revealed some of my progress and how I moved on and became a clinical neurophysiologist, consultant and an entrepreneur in health care field, and I am sure many of my union mission colleagues have gone up and doing well to, may not have started their own medical company or business, but I am sure they are all doing pretty well in their field. Science careers, that covers the postdoc issue this time, was so redundant and mundane in putting up a story of NPA organizers and how the NPA helped them grow up in career and life, why would Science career put someone strange in charge of writing this article than the regular postdoc specialist who covers them, and why now. If they really had any originality or thoughtfulness, then such an article must have appeared long ago, why after I post this decade of progress in unionizing Postdocs. It simply ridiculous how they follow up blogs like this for bits and piece of their articles but never even acknowledge directly or indirectly, pretty lame?.

John, are you following these trends?, I hope the postdoc union has the last laugh..! Lol

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PRO/UAW Site

http://www.prouaw.org/home/home.php
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.
PRO/UAW

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.