“Sinai’s proposals today were still lacking for families and for women in particular. If they can raise salaries for all of us, they can support childcare, parental leave, and housing for a minority of us. These improvements would make Sinai more equitable and avoid the loss of many talented researchers.” – Tanya Nauvel, Department of Neuroscience
Today, over two sessions, Sinai made more progress on non-economic issues, agreeing to language that would provide stronger protections for workers and for our union. However, their movement on the economic proposals was mostly limited to salary and fell short of our holistic demands to enhance equity around housing, childcare, and parental leave. We responded to Sinai’s 5pm package shortly before sending this email – you can read the packages we exchanged here.
- We reached agreements on 7 articles: Appointments and Reappointments, in which we won extended DS2019 work authorizations for postdocs beyond one-year initial appointments; Force Majeure, which they agreed to reject; Grievance and Arbitration, in which we agreed on a timely process consistent with Columbia’s postdoc contract; Professional Development, in which we secured $500 awards for conference travel and other opportunities; Tax Assistance, in which we secured a enforceable measures for timely tax filing and support; and Prohibition Against Discrimination and Harassment, in which we secured protections against abusive conduct and bullying, immediate and supportive measures, and extended timelines for reporting harassment; and Management Rights, which aligns with the Columbia postdocs’ recent contract.
- Union Security: We made more progress towards reaching strong union security measures, with Sinai agreeing for the first time to enforceable language for an agency shop. We are continuing to push for strong language to ensure a timely process for collecting dues and fees.
- Compensation: Sinai’s counter proposal included an increase to the minimum postdoc salary of $72,500 and that salary raises would be backdated to 90 days prior to ratification, while continuing to reject that the minimum salary scale would increase annually for inflation. This represents movement in the right direction in that it finally reaches the level of our buying power from 2018, after adjusting for inflation, while still failing to provide postdocs with an increase above this level.
- Housing, Childcare, and Parental Leave: Sinai continues to reject our proposals for extended access to housing and increased transparency in the housing process; a dedicated childcare benefit to support postdoc parents; and real parental leave that is separate from medical leave for the birth parent. We emphasized that these provisions are essential to demonstrating a real commitment to diversity and equity in science and that Sinai must do more in these areas.
In our final counter today, we reasserted our housing and family-friendly benefit proposals while further lowering our salary demand to $75,000. The money Sinai would save in salary with this proposal is sufficient to pay for our housing and childcare demands– while ensuring that our contract meets both the standards set by other postdoc unions, including Columbia’s, and strengthens diversity in academia.
Postdocs gathered Monday evening to make signs for our strike. Sign up for the Wednesday morning picket shift if you haven’t already!
Today’s progress– 2 days before our strike deadline– is the product of the pressure we have created across campus to win our core priorities combined with intensive efforts at the bargaining table. In order to ensure that we can make Sinai a truly equitable and fair place to work for the most precarious of us, we are continuing with our strike preparations:
- Our strike and picket line begins at 9am on Wednesday! Once we’ve gotten warmed up, we’ll hold a Strike Kick-Off Rally at 10am at E 99th and Madison Ave with NYC elected and community allies. Sign up for picket shifts here.
- Join a strike committee to help plan for a successful strike!
- Ask your PI to sign this letter from concerned faculty urging administration to reach an agreement that avoids a strike
- Ask your coworkers who are not postdocs to sign the solidarity pledge to respect our picket lines
- Pledge to contribute to our strike fund which will support postdocs financially burdened by striking and share with your networks
- Share a letter of community support with your scientific colleagues around the world.
As always, please share any questions or concerns.
SPOC-UAW Bargaining Committee
Pooja Viswanathan, Neuroscience
Andrea Joseph, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
Pablo Knobel, Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Lukas Bethlehem, Genetics and Genomic Sciences