Hundreds of UW researchers, postdocs now on strike

SEATTLE — Hundreds of University of Washington researchers and postdocs are on strike.

On Wednesday, dozens of them were picketing on several corners of the campus, and at noon hundreds gathered at Red Square for a strike rally.

For months, the group of 2,400 postdoctoral researchers and research scientists/engineers (RSEs) has been bargaining with the university to reach an agreement.

“This is really the last resort. Both our researchers and postdocs love their job and they really didn’t want this to happen but UW has not been making enough progress at the bargaining table,” said Levin Kim, president, UAW Local 4121.

The union is asking for an inclusive workforce, support for childcare, and fair pay. Postdocs say the university is refusing to pay them a living wage.

Kim says overall researchers help bring in more than $1 billion every year, and during the strike, resources will be at a complete standstill. This will impact 6,000 academic student employees who work alongside them.

“Postdocs and research scientists are what makes my lab run… Researchers work extremely hard at this university you know, vastly over 40 hours a week in a lot of cases,” said Audrey O’Neil, graduate student, biochemistry researcher.

As researchers were picketing Wednesday morning, cars passing by honked in support, and some students like Mathieu Chabaud even joined the picket line.

I don’t want the money that I pay going to your pocket, I want that going to the pockets of the people that actually do work for this university,” said Chabaud.

The university has released a statement saying it has made offers they are proud to stand behind, and say the end of spring quarter is a time to be celebrating, “not divided over contract negotiations.”

The university released a statement on Wednesday that said, 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 scientists.?