UC Postdocs File Unfair Labor Practice Charges Over Bargaining Delays

Matthew “Oki” O’Connor

After more than 17 months and 57 bargaining sessions, Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of California (UC) still don’t have a contract. UC’s stalling has drawn widespread criticism from elected officals and workers’ rights organization yet we still haven’t made any progress toward a contract. This week our union – Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/United Autoworkers filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the Public Employee Relations Board charging that UC deliberately delayed negotiations and attempted to undermine our union.

Norval Hickman, a Postdoc at UC San Francisco who researches tobacco addiction and is a member of the PRO/UAW Bargaining Committee explained:

Postdocs are growing impatient with UC hiding behind the CA budget crisis and other pretexts to stall agreement on our first contract. Everyone knows we are paid from growing research contract and grant revenue, not state general funds. UC’s behavior is unacceptable.

Victor Sanchez, president of the UC Student Association that represents 200,000 students across the UC system said growing resentment among students towards methods used by UC administrators in these negotiations:

We have been watching these negotiations for more than 17 months now and are disappointed to see UC dragging out negotiations for as long as possible, especially since some part of our rapidly increasing tuition and fees goes to pay the administrators in charge of these negotiations. As a public institution, UC ought to be an exemplar of good faith bargaining and productive labor relations, not resorting to such dirty tricks and wasteful tactics.

Christine Petit, President of UAW Local 2865, which represents Teaching Assistants, Readers and Tutors at UC:

Since the Unfair Labor Practices and strikes that led to the first contract for the TA Union ten years ago, we have had a more constructive and positive relationship with UC. It’s unfortunate to see them regressing to such unproductive tactics. The 12,000 academic student employees at UC will not stand by while UC does this to the Postdoc Union.

The ULP charges come on the heels of unprecedented and growing pressure from Congressional leaders encouraging UC to reach agreement, including an April 30 House Committee on Education and Labor field hearing looking into UC’s failure to reach agreement after 15 months of negotiations. After the hearing, Chairman George Miller wrote UC President Yudof expressing “deep concern” about UC’s slow-paced approach to the negotiations, saying he “left the hearing thoroughly disappointed” in UC’s efforts to reach agreement.

Our researchers seek to cure major diseases, address climate change and conduct other invaluable research to help make the UC a world-renowned institution. We deserve good-faith bargaining that will lead to a fair and timely contract. It’s time for UC to stop dragging its feet and work with us to get the job done.

Copies of the charges are available at www.prouaw.org.