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Univ. of Washington RSEs, Postdocs rally for fair contract

UPDATE (May 1, 2023)

SEATTLE (May 1, 2023) — Research Scientists/Engineers (RSEs) and Postdocs in the University of Washington School of Medicine are set to rally today (Monday, May 1) following a 400-person rally by UW RSEs and Postdocs on April 24. RSEs and Postdocs at UW have been bargaining for months and have yet to reach agreement on successor or initial contracts. Having filed multiple unfair labor practices (ULPs) and taken action to advocate for fair settlement, they are set to rally at the South Lake Union campus on Monday.

TAKE A STAND — All union members and community supporters are invited to join this rally to urge the UW Administration to stop breaking the law so UW Postdocs and Researchers can secure fair contracts. It will be Monday, May 1 starting at noon on the South Lake Union campus, Courtyard in front of Building C.

University of Washington RSEs and Postdocs rally on April 24.

“We watched hundreds of our colleagues rally in support of a fair contract a few days ago, and we are excited to be turning out at SLU to tell UW they need to stop breaking the law and bargain fair contracts. We need to reach agreement so we have the support we need to focus on our work, which is integral to biomedical and clinical research at UW,” said June Rambousek, RSE-2, Cancer Vaccine Institute.

RSEs and Postdocs at UW often work closely together, and—along with their other unionized colleagues, Academic Student Employees—are key to powering the University’s research operation, which brings over $1 billion per year in research grants and contracts. These groups are rallying to draw attention to the University’s unlawful behavior that has delayed negotiations and created obstacles to reaching agreement. In particular, the ULPs hinge on the University’s efforts to evade the state law governing overtime and wage standards for salaried employees.

The May 1 action comes in the wake of successful strike authorization votes by both units. Of the members voting, a resounding 96.3% of Postdocs voted yes to authorize their bargaining team to call a strike if necessary; and 91.7% of RSEs voting voted yes. On April 19, they received strike sanction from MLK Labor Council and the Joint Council of Teamsters 28. At the rally on April 24, the 6,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at UW, also members of UAW 4121, announced a pledge not to cross the picket line, which they are currently circulating among their membership.

RSEs won their union election in June 2022 and have been in negotiations with UW for their first-ever contract since August. Postdocs began in October 2022; their collective bargaining agreement expired on Jan. 31, 2023.

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