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Where and when would a strike take place?
We plan to begin our Unfair Labor Practice strike on Wednesday, December 6th to protest Sinai’s unlawful behavior. It will last until Sinai corrects its conduct, or until we collectively decide to cease striking.
Striking is a last resort. A work stoppage would be disruptive, but striking is also the strongest tool we have to secure a fair contract, and we are preparing now so that if it is necessary, we are ready. We hope that Sinai will stop stalling our negotiations and make greater progress toward a fair agreement, but until we see such progress, we will continue to make preparations to strike should it be needed.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved in organizing for mass participation!
What has led up to a strike announcement?
Our union was certified on July 5, 2022, but more than 16 months later we are still fighting to reach a first contract that provides fair and equitable support for postdocs at Sinai. Throughout negotiations we have made many efforts to demonstrate the urgency of reaching a fair agreement in a timely manner, including:
- A majority of researchers signed an open letter calling on Sinai to avoid delays and reach an agreement in a timely manner.
- We have shared our stories through social media and testified in bargaining about our experiences of harassment and unfair termination.
- We adjusted our work schedules in order to join bargaining sessions
- We have reached out and met with School leadership across Sinai to discuss our priorities, as well as elected representatives in NYC
- We held town halls and multiple rallies with other NYC academic workers, including postdocs at Columbia and our student worker colleagues
- We have shown support and flyered at community and alumni events to engage with the Sinai community.
- We held a mass meeting at which more than one hundred postdocs from across Sinai voiced support for a strike authorization vote.
- We voted by 91% to authorize our elected Bargaining Committee to call a strike if circumstances justify.
- We picketed on campus with over 200 of our colleagues and community allies.
Despite these and other efforts, as of early November the administration has agreed to meet with us just 33 times over the course of 13 months, for the equivalent of roughly half of a work day each month. Sinai has also consistently rejected our requests to meet more often or for longer periods, stating that their schedules are too complicated and busy.
While we have made progress in a number of important areas since we started bargaining on October 4, 2022, Sinai has so far failed to reach a fair agreement in a timely manner, and continues to resist agreeing to stronger protections in areas like unfair termination or discrimination, harassment, and bullying, as well as economic proposals. Sinai has also failed to bargain in good faith and has unlawfully threatened international postdocs.
When and how was the strike authorized?
On August 3, our bargaining committee and organizing committee announced a strike authorization vote, following a mass meeting at which more than one hundred postdocs voiced their strong support for this move.
The Strike Authorization Vote was held from August 10 – 19. With supermajority participation, 377 total votes were cast, with 91% voting Yes to authorize a strike if necessary.
What will a strike look like and how long would it last?
A strike is a complete work stoppage. During a strike, Postdocs would not perform our work duties and instead would participate in picket lines to increase the visibility of the strike. Check out picket line information and sign up for picket shifts here. You must sign up for at least 20 hours/week (e.g. five shifts) to be eligible for strike pay.
It will last until Sinai corrects its bad-faith conduct, or until union membership decides to cease striking.
What is a picket line?
A picket line is a public expression by striking workers of their dispute, which conveys a request for other workers and community members to join them in solidarity. We can increase the impact of a strike by encouraging colleagues and community allies not to cross the line and avoid activities that weaken our strike.
What makes a strike effective?
Postdocs make up the largest group of researchers working in labs at Sinai. When Postdocs withhold our labor, Sinai will be forced to make much greater efforts to reach a fair agreement or cease to function as a top tier research institution. The more of us who participate, the more collective power we will have.
When we demonstrate publicly that we are withholding our labor through picket lines and pressure from community and political allies, it will also increase pressure on Sinai respond to our demands.
What do I do instead of work if we go on strike?
During a strike, Postdocs would participate in various strike duties including picketing in and around campus, talking to coworkers, outreach to allies, and strike coordination efforts. Sign up for at least 5 picket shifts per week here.
Is it legal for us to go on strike?
As with all other union action, our solidarity and willingness to be public is our best protection: there is strength in numbers. We’ll work to support each other and work with our elected leadership and other representatives to navigate legal or other challenges as they arise.
Will I get in trouble for striking?
Retaliation for organizing and striking is illegal. Additionally, as with all other union action, our solidarity and willingness to be public is our best protection. In other words: they’d have to take on all of us in order to take on one of us.
Am I allowed to strike if I am an international postdoc?
International postdocs have the same rights under labor law to participate in union activities, including striking, as domestic workers do. Thousands of international postdocs at the University of California and the University of Washington recently took strike votes and ultimately went on strike to win strong contracts.
Will I be paid while I am on strike?
Sinai has the right to not pay us while we are on strike and not working. In the event of a strike, Postdocs who complete strike duties will be eligible for $500 per week of strike pay from the UAW strike fund. We will also fundraise to provide further assistance to workers who experience emergency financial hardship due to lost pay. Click here to make a pledge to donate once our strike begins.
Can Sinai withhold my healthcare benefits if I’m on strike?
If Sinai decides to withhold health benefits during a strike, postdocs would have our medical benefits paid through the UAW Strike and Defense Fund.
Will Sinai care if we go on strike?
Yes. Postdocs perform critical work every day and a strike would be highly visible showing the solidarity of hundreds of postdocs and other community members who pledge to honor our picket line. A strike will attract media attention and political support for our right to fair working conditions. Members of other unions can support us in a variety of ways. The combination of stopping research, media coverage, and political pressure generated by a strike would absolutely impact Sinai.
Isn’t going on strike only hurting ourselves because our research would suffer?
While participating in a strike will require all of us to make sacrifices, this action also gives Postdocs the collective power to ensure that Sinai reaches a fair agreement with us. A contract that provides vital improvements to our pay, benefits, and workplace rights would also make Sinai more equitable, inclusive, and competitive with other major research institutions, and this will in turn improve research at Sinai.
What should I do with my live test subjects if we choose to strike?
It’s ultimately Sinai’s responsibility to make sure that any basic lab maintenance happens during a strike. There are also ways that you can prepare for a potential strike. These plans could include advance-planning your experiments or informing supervisors that they may need to make alternative plans to take care of these subjects.