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March 06, 2014

PostDoc Unions:- How do Science Magazine and Nature Publications Look at it?.

Nature Publications Group (NPG) headquartered in London and The Science Magazine (AAA) based in Washington DC are the two leading science publishing groups quite well read and world wide known for their reputation to be the number one science publishers. But, it is ironic to notice that they have been on the other side of the fence with respect to PostDoc issues, quite touchy and distanced themselves to support postdoc organizing themselves, rather they openly opposed any such organizations for postdocs except of their own vested interest NPA like organizations.  From the day one Uconn Health Center (UCHC) PostDocs began to fight for their own voice to be heard by the management and the policy makers, most scientific groups and institutions kept their distance with organizing postdocs...! Why?..
.................both these scientific magazines been utterly negative about Unionization of PostDocs. If any of the readers, visitors and advocates have any idea and thoughts on why, I invite you to share it, there are several obvious reasons one can come up with and share here.

They continued their anti-postdoc attitudes in a very subtle manner so that the innocent or naive postdocs and young scientists around the world would not notice their "anti" stand. So that they can keep the naive postdocs in their loop without loosing postdoc readership of these magazines. The subtlety lies in their method of writing about postdocs, what they did is to create two groups of journalists insider their writers roster, one group will write in a postdoc union positive tone, and the other journalists will bash it and try to put the Union effort into trash, eventually they gave up once Unionization's emerged at Uconn........ they found a new love for postdocs by allocating more space and time after the Uconn Health Center's PostDoc unionization, the success of postdocs organization perhaps taught them a lesson, because postdocs put together far more powerful effort than these magazines ever thought?, and thereby the spread of postdoc unions led to some changes in their attitude towards writing about postdocs plight?.

The very mechanisms and the way these two science publishers approached this postdoc issues are pretty perplexing to someone who knows how things work at Nature and Science Magazine. I will provide some instances later, but after bashing the postdoc union for a long time (number of years?), both Nature and Science magazines slowly waking up and are coming to a realization now that it is too late to keep chanting the anti postdoc union mantra but move on writing "As IT IS" about postdoc issues. The following nature article is simply the most obvious display of the change of mind of Natures writers and editors, but science has done it's own part by letting Beryl write freely on PostDocs union without any constrain......!?. Time does bring changes to even the most notorious mindsets! I wrote earlier, no one can stop the Postdoc unionization spreading all over the world let alone in US...Bravo Uconn Health Center PostDocs!.

The Spread of "PostDocs Unions"
..............this is the latest news about postdoc penned by Virginia Gewin, I never heard of this name associated with postdoc issues but it is interesting to note how a genuine story can be told to the world in their narrowed outlook at times with their own little interpretation of what is happening in the world of PostDocs. This is a news publication stemmed from one of the Nature publications,, a division of nature publishing group (NPG). Nature for some reason did not like PostDocs getting unionized,  oh well, why would they and most corporations squirm at the thought of unions?

If you thought that was interesting to know, it gets even more interesting if you know how Science magazine and Alfred P.Sloan Foundation (supposed to have GM connections, they claim in their "about us" page that it is independent and no formal relationship with the General Motors Corporation, well yea, we believe it!!?) together put their heavy hands to create and support to a looser organization known as "National Postdoctoral Association". Though, there might have been some genuine reasons to create a body for PostDocs that represent all the US PostDocs, NPA was one of the least influential of such organization I ever seen, it is like for the heck of it they made an org? that has no vision or any record of helping postdocs, because it was a failure from it's very inception!.

When I was attending their very first meetings during 2003 (infact, the NPA gave me a travel fund to attend and present my views as a member of the PostDoc Union organizers from Uconn Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut. I was not sure about what their stand, and thought that they might be genuine supporter of postdocs cause, thought they are open minded and will have the right perspective about PostDoc Unions. What I noticed during the conference that there was not much interests among organizers and sponsors of this conference about postdoc Unions.The NPA folks at that time (2003) about 90% of them opposed the idea of postdoc union, or the union approach to resolve postdoc issues?. Their argument was an association like NPA will spearhead and fix issues without conflicts with PIs or Universities, whereas unions cannot?. I had attended this conference against my own colleagues advice not to participate, I kept a open mind to explore what is that NPA and the backers upto?. My colleagues who are fighting with the university for salaries, benefits and betterment of postdocs at UCONN thought that I might be sucked into the anti union gang and taken over by the NPA that I might leave the postdoc unionization efforts, they did not realize that I can't be swayed away by these organizations and such people!!, I came out of NPA with clear and strong views that Unionization is the best option for Postdocs and NPA is anti union.

They created this organization to fight the postdoc unions and made their effort to somehow stunt the growth beginning by opposing the first Postdoc union (ours?) and in that process NPA miserably failed. big upset for them?.

To be cont'd,,,,,,,,,,,,,,More to come....!!!

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