Hundreds of postdocs picketed on campus last Thursday to protest delays and call for real progress on economic issues and workplace protections.

The Sinai administration responded to our economic proposals at last Friday’s session after a three-month delay. These proposals include salary, housing, childcare, time off, leaves, and more. While we did see some improvement in a few of these areas at Friday’s session, including on salary and time off, Sinai’s initial responses fell far short of addressing the urgent issues that postdocs face.

We voted to form our union due to widespread frustration with our working conditions, but almost all of Sinai’s counter proposals would maintain the existing status quo. Unfortunately, Sinai failed to back up their economic counters with data – when we asked for their reasoning, they responded that these were initial offers and that they are prepared to make more movement in the future.

Some highlights from Sinai’s economic counter proposals:

  • Housing: Sinai proposed no change to the status quo i.e., only three years of guaranteed housing.
  • Childcare: Sinai proposed no childcare stipend to postdocs parents.
  • Parental leave: Sinai’s proposal no paid parental leave – instead, postdocs would the be able to convert 30 sick days into parental leave.
  • Vacation: Sinai countered with a proposed an increase from 15 to 18 days of vacation.
  • Sick Leave: Sinai accepted our proposal of 15 days of sick leave.
  • Compensation: Sinai proposed a $65,000 starting salary with 1% raises for every year of experience at Sinai and no cost of living adjustment. While an improvement over our current minimum of $58,661, this is still far from sufficient and does not keep pace with inflation or competitor institutions in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
  • International Researcher Rights and Tax Assistance: Sinai proposed no change to the status quo, including no institutional support for international postdocs beyond what can be provided by their PI.
  • Retirement: Sinai proposed no change to the status quo,i.e., no employer contribution to a retirement plan.
  • Relocation: Sinai proposed no institutional relocation support beyond what a PI can decide to provide.
  • Health insurance: Sinai rejected our proposal to return to 2022 health plans.
  • Holidays: Sinai proposed no change to the status quo.
  • Parking and Transit: Sinai proposed no change to the status quo.

Find all of our initial proposals and Sinai’s counters in our bargaining tracker here

Actions taken by postdocs so far, including our strike authorization vote and our Informational Picket last Thursday, have been critical to moving Sinai’s to respond to our economic proposals. Additionally, we reached agreements on more bargaining sessions in October during our Friday session, and a commitment to respond more quickly to future counters.

We will keep fighting for needed improvements that would make Sinai more equitable, inclusive, and fair. It’s clear we need to keep the pressure up on Sinai to win the economic improvements we deserve. RSVP here for our next scheduled bargaining sessions on October 12th, 18th, and 20th.

In solidarity,
Pooja Viswanathan
SPOC-UAW Bargaining Committee