Neal Sweeney, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz studying stem cell therapies for eye disease. He is President of the United Auto Workers 5810, which represents over 6,000 postdocs at the University of California.

UC Postdoctoral Researchers Tell Administration: Respect Our Contract—Equal Pay for Equal Work!

Neal Sweeney

For the thousands of international students and researchers who come to US universities each year, the academy is seen as a beacon of opportunity, where the people who work the hardest and the best ideas rise to the top.  

As a union representing more than 6,000 postdoctoral scholars (also known as “postdocs”) at the University of California, this promise means something – the majority of our members are immigrants working in the US on guest worker visas, and they are here because they have worked for years to reach the forefront of biology, physics, engineering and other fields. They have already earned PhDs, and come to UC to perform cutting-edge research – think breakthrough cancer therapies, new models for the origin of the universe, stem cell research and more.

Labor and Immigrant Groups Can Move Forward Together

. While many of us in the labor movement have known this for a long time, recently released figures drive this lesson home – bucking the national trend, California has witnessed rising union membership largely due to organizing drives in sectors with high immigrant populations, including home care aides, car wash workers and scientific researchers. This powerful partnership between the labor and immigrant communities is key to strengthening the worker's rights movement and will be a major factor in immigration reform.