On April 27, we met Mount Sinai for our 17th bargaining session. After months of postdocs making our voices heard on the need for fair standards for discipline and termination, Mount Sinai agreed to remove language in the Discipline and Dismissal article that would have allowed them to discipline or terminate postdocs without just cause at any time during our appointments. However, they also introduced two new articles that together would allow them to maintain their ability to dismiss postdocs without cause at the start of appointments and apply new policies that make postdoc appointments less secure overall.

Under the first new article, Probationary Period, postdocs on their first appointment would have a probationary period within which they can be terminated without cause. Additionally, in the other new article, Performance Reviews, Sinai proposed that every postdoc would be subject to an annual performance review, the failure of which could be used to discipline or dismiss them, and the content of these reviews would not be subject to our grievance procedure. While we are glad that Sinai is no longer insisting that postdocs should be subject to unfair discipline and termination throughout our appointments, we will continue to fight against efforts to weaken access to just cause for new postdocs and add unnecessary new evaluations that make our appointments less secure overall. Postdocs, especially visa-holders and parents, face significant risks and challenges when arriving in the U.S. and Sinai should respect these sacrifices by agreeing to greater job security.

On Professional Development, Mount Sinai accepted some of our language on the types of resources that should be provided as part of an annual professional development program. However, they continue to argue against providing greater support for postdocs’ professional development through subsidized travel to conferences and support for PEC.

On Grievance and Arbitration, Mount Sinai reduced the minimum time for a postdoc to appeal a complaint to a neural third-party arbitrator from over four months to approximately three months. This is still far too long for us to wait while trying to enforce our rights, and is three times longer than our current proposed timeline which is comparable to what unionized residents at Mount Sinai have in their contract.

On Workload, we had an extended discussion where both sides acknowledged the need for flexibility of work schedules according to the research projects postdocs are undertaking. We are continuing to discuss language that would best describe a reasonable workload.

On Employment Records, we reached a tentative agreement (TA). As Sinai continues to develop an electronic records system, each Postdoc can request to access their records. We also have an agreement on confidentiality and the right to request corrections of the records.

On Health and Safety, Mount Sinai agreed to extend protections against unsafe work environments to both postdocs and their unborn child, cover more of the necessary certifications postdocs must undergo, and increase our representation in health and safety meetings. We believe we are getting closer to reaching an agreement on this article.

On Appointments and Reappointments, Sinai agreed that notices of renewal or non-renewal must be provided at least 4 months before the end of the appointment, but made barely any changes beyond this.

On Union Access and Rights, we continue to ask for access to digital channels of communication with our fellow postdocs on union-related information.

We are continuing to ask for more sessions, but for now, our next bargaining session is on May 9 – please click here to attend the session! 

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or thoughts.

In solidarity,

Pooja Viswanathan
SPOC-UAW Bargaining Committee