Member spotlight: UAW Local 5810: The Union For Postdocs at the University of California
Chartered in 2008, UAW Local 5810 represents over 6,000 postdoctoral scholars at the University of California, or approximately one tenth of all postdocs nationwide. Our members work at the cutting edge of the most sophisticated research in the world in a wide variety of health-related fields and beyond, and their contributions and discoveries move society forward in important ways.
The contract that our union negotiated with the University of California in 2010 includes a minimum salary scale that matches the NIH/NRSA scale, a stable and comprehensive benefits plan, more job security, and the right to career development resources. With the increases we’ve won in paid time off, female postdocs no longer have to face uncertain maternity leave. And when work-related issues arise, there is an impartial process for resolving them. When postdocs have an equal say in determining our working conditions, our quality of life improves, which in turn improves the quality of research.
Our collective voice has also given us the power to address broader issues, such as federal support for science research. Our advocacy for research funding has taken many forms, including direct engagement with legislators and innovative social media campaigns, and our efforts have earned the support of thousands of postdocs, NIH Director Francis Collins and more than 20 members of Congress from California. We are also focused on other issues including the under-representation of women in science and academia in general, and we have been supporting fair and comprehensive immigration reform that would benefit international researchers and the entire research enterprise in the US.
UAW 5810 is an active political force on UC campuses and throughout California. In 2012 we created the Science Slate, a list of the candidates who understand the value of scientific research and statewide ballot propositions that would help support postdocs. Our members put in over 1,000 hours of direct campaign volunteer work for initiatives and congressional and legislative candidates. Ninety-three percent of the candidates and initiatives we supported were successful.
We are proud to join with Research!America to fight for research funding that supports our work and moves science forward. The breakthroughs our members are poised to deliver will create the economic growth of the future, just as federally-funded research over decades has led to the invention of cancer treatments, therapies for HIV, antibiotics, medical imaging technology, and much, much more. Federal funding for research is an economic engine we can’t give up on.