Striking researchers, postdocs reach tentative agreement with UW
Jun 16, 2023, 8:51 AM | Updated: 9:07 am
(Photo from Micki Gamez/KIRO Newsradio)
Update 6/16 8:38 p.m.:
After a week-long strike, researchers and post-doctoral workers have reached a tentative agreement with the University of Washington (UW).
The new contract is set to increase worker pay and improve the working conditions of the 2,400 union members at the institution. Postdoc Scholars will see their pay increased by 28% by Jan. 1, 2024, and their compensation will be re-negotiated before the next increase by Jan. 1, 2025. Researchers will see a pay increase of 33%, along with future wage increases that keep up with the costs of living.
“The University tried every trick in the book to avoid paying Postdocs and Research Scientists/Engineers fairly, but ultimately, Postdocs and RSEs walking off the job showed how essential they are and how much of an impact the loss of their labor had on University operations. Through the power they displayed and support of their allies, Postdocs and RSEs forced the University to meet their demands and won strong contracts which will make science and research at UW more inclusive and sustainable,” said Mike Miller, Director of UAW Region 6.
The contract ratification vote will begin on Friday.
Some 2,400 scientists, engineers, and post-doctoral researchers are now on strike after failing to reach a negotiation over pay increases with the University of Washington (UW).
Along with other union colleagues, researchers say they are key to powering the university’s research operations, which bring in more than a billion dollars in research grants and contracts.
The union workers say that they are making less than a living wage while providing essential work to the University’s multi-million dollar research program. They are also asking for support for childcare and an inclusive workforce.
They claim the university continues to delay negotiations. The post-graduate workers held a rally to charge the university for using unfair labor practices in their bargaining.
The strike was approved by the union at the end of May. The Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council granted the union strike sanction, which ensures that other unions are asked to honor picket lines should they choose to go on strike, back at the end of April.
The current collective bargaining agreement expired January 31.
A statement from the UW disagrees with the claims that their bargaining practices are illegal and say they continue to negotiate in good faith.
A University of Washington spokesperson released the following statement to KIRO 7:
“UW Postdocs and Research Scientists are valued members of our University community, and each provide different but important contributions to our university research mission. We are discouraged by a decision to authorize a strike starting June 7 while we are in the midst of good-faith negotiations supported by Public Employment Relations Commission appointed mediators.”
Workers are kicking off the strike in UW’s Red Square at 12 p.m. Wednesday.
KIRO 7 contributed to this report