The Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California
Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/ International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of
We have withdrawn the petition for certification of the Union that we had filed at the
state labor board in July. During the PRO/UAW organizing drive, we did not have a
list of all Postdocs working at the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley
National Lab.  In the course of working through the petition process with the
University we learned that 500-600 of the cards we submitted to PERB were from
people who identified as Postdocs at the time they signed, but now are not Postdocs
and are not on the list, largely due to the transition of Postdoc job titles under APM
390. As a result, we are approximately 100 cards short of majority.

  • On September 21st, 2006, the Union filed an amended petition with PERB.  The
    amendment excludes Postdoctoral Scholars who are not employees of the
    University.  Please check back here for updates on the progress of the petition.

  • On August 2, the UC's outside, private counsel filed an objection to our petition
    at PERB. At no time prior to the filing of these objections did the University ever
    contact the Union to verify any of the information contained therein. Rather,
    while there are nearly 6000 postdocs in the University of California system, the
    University decided to file an objection based on some unsupported and vague
    claims of a few individuals.  Indeed, the University's filing includes only 14
    affidavits from postdoctoral fellows. Those individuals allege a range of unclear
    and general claims that run counter to everything the Union has ever stated
    about the organizing process, including the clear statements on this very

  • Great news! A strong majority of UC Postdocs statewide have signed up for the
    Union. The petition has been filed with the state labor board.


•         What is collective bargaining and how is it different from what we have now?
•         Why are Postdocs organizing and why are we part of the UAW?
•         What does mean?
•         What is my admin?
What is collective bargaining and how is it different from what we have now?

Collective bargaining is a process that equalizes the power relationship between employees and their employer.  
With collective bargaining, Postdoc representatives we choose will survey us to determine priorities and will then
negotiate a contract with UC.  We can negotiate for improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and
conditions of employment.  We will have an opportunity to vote on the agreement that UC and our bargaining team
reach, before it becomes a binding contract.   

A contract is generally enforced by a grievance procedure, ending with binding arbitration before a neutral third
party, rather than the UC administration.  Without a contract, UC has the unilateral ability to decide and change our
wages, benefits, and working conditions.  They can seek our input when they wish, but input lacks the equal footing
and legal rights provided by collective bargaining.  With a Union, the Postdoctoral Scholars Association will continue
to play a valuable role in advocating for UC Postdocs.   By unionizing, Postdocs expand our current rights, negotiate
on an equal footing with UC, and can deliver binding contracts.
 The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)
recognizes and respects the right of Postdocs to engage in collective bargaining.

A recent article in Science’s Next Wave outlines many of the improvements won by unionized Postdocs at the
University of Connecticut Healthcare Center (UCHC) though collective bargaining.  In the first contract, Postdocs won
significant wage increases--as much as $10,000 in some cases, annual cost of living adjustments, improved
evaluation procedures and advances in other aspects of their rights and working conditions. Although, at the time
Postdocs were unionizing at UCHC, some claimed that higher pay for Postdocs would mean fewer positions or that
Union representation might negatively impact Postdoc relationships with their PIs, these concerns have not
materialized.  Some also fear that the multiple and varied nature of Postdoc funding sources would make it difficult to
bargain wages without negatively affecting grants. However, unionized Postdocs at UCHC say they have not seen
any negative impact on grants from collective bargaining (Benderly,
Science’s Next Wave, 3 March 2006).
Why are Postdocs organizing and why are we part of the UAW?

UC officials at the system-wide level determine many of our employment issues beyond the control of our funding
sources, PIs, and research groups.  Most UC employees have already unionized and engage in collective bargaining
with the administration.  By signing up a majority of Postdocs, we, too, can exercise our legal rights to bargain with

Many Postdocs at UC were members of the UAW when they were graduate students.  A strong majority of UC’s
12,000 Academic Student Employees selected the UAW in the 1990’s.  The UAW represents over 20,000 Academic
Student Employees, including UC, CSU and UW.  In its Academic Council, the UAW represents teachers,
researchers, counselors, clericals, service workers and maintenance workers at over 40 universities and colleges.
What does signing a card mean?  

The card states “Count me in the majority”.   The card authorizes our Union, PRO/UAW, to be our representative for
collective bargaining.  Under State law, when a majority of employees sign up, the Public Employment Relations
Board will count the cards to verify the majority.  Then, we will be certified to bargain our contract.  It is not a
membership card.    

No one in the UAW pays dues until they have had an opportunity to vote on and approve a contract.  After UC
Postdocs ratify a contract, dues for employees who choose to join as members are 1.15% of gross salary (two hours
pay per month for a full-time appointment). The law requires the Union to represent everyone in a majority certified
unit, regardless of Union membership.  Accordingly, after a contract is ratified, most contracts provide for non-
members to pay a fee for representational services (usually about 80-90% of the dues amount).  Dues support a
variety of resources that equalize power with the employer and enable us to represent our members.  These include
educational, legal, organizing, negotiating and other representational services.   
What are the rights of international scholars to participate in the Union?

International scholars have the same rights to join and participate as US citizens.  In many years of representing
international student workers at UC and elsewhere, no one has reported any complications in their status from
unionizing.  International scholars have joined and participated in the Union in large numbers.  Through the Union
and its national clout, we have won important protections and rights in the post 9/11 political climate.  The UAW has
also advocated for international workers to be able to freely choose their employment and opposes employer
control over the H1-B visa.  
See the UAW's position on rights of immigrant workers.

If you would like more information, please call the PRO/UAW office at (415)538-0844.