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Postdocs, researchers at University of Washington initiate strike

The group plans to gather at UW's Red Square at noon on Wednesday.

SEATTLE — Postdoctoral researchers as well as research scientists and engineers at the University of Washington initiated a strike Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with the school in bargaining.

UAW 4121, the union of postdocs, research scientists/engineers and academic student employees at UW, released a statement early Wednesday morning indicating that 2,400 of its members are now on strike and that there are plans for a gathering at UW's Red Square beginning at noon.

“Today Postdocs, Researchers, members of the UW community, and community at large are standing together to hold the UW administration accountable. Through our collective action, we hope to compel them to bargain in good faith, so we can finally address the urgent issues we face as researchers committed to our careers in science and research,” said Levin Kim, president of UAW 4121.

The research scientists/engineers say they have three core demands that have yet to be met: support for an inclusive workforce, support for childcare and fair compensation. Postdocs say UW is "refusing to pay Postdocs a living wage in line with state minimum wage standards."

“We love our research but UW left us no choice," said Rebecca Bluett, a postdoctoral scholar at UW. "We will be striking until we get a fair contract. Our priority has always been ensuring that science at UW is sustainable and inclusive, and that means fair pay so we can all afford rent, take care of our families, and stay in the careers we love."

The University released a statement that read in part:

"We are very disappointed at the postdoctoral researchers and research scientists’ decisions to strike after some significant progress was made in both negotiations recently. The UW has continued to bargain in good faith and has offers on the table in both negotiations that are fair and represent significant wage increases. Our postdocs and research scientists are valued members of our university community and important contributors to our research mission. We all agree that fair and competitive compensation creates a more inclusive and sustainable scientific workforce and is needed to continue to attract talented postdocs and research scientist.

Negotiations with the research scientists are very close, yet they left the table Tuesday for eight hours only to return with an unchanged proposal and walk away. Postdocs, meanwhile, most recently proposed an 8% increase on top of the average 13% increase they received in January — and a contract length of only eight months.

The UW has made offers that it is proud to stand behind."

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