UConn’s Board of Trustees has approved a tentative agreement for a four-year collective bargaining contract covering the University’s approximately 160 postdoctoral research associates at the Storrs and regional campuses, excluding UConn Health.
This is the first contract between UConn and the bargaining unit, known as the Postdoctoral Research Associates Union, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 6950 (UAW-Postdocs).
The negotiations took place over the course of slightly more than a year. Union members ratified the agreement prior to its presentation before the Board of Trustees for approval at a special meeting on Monday, March 9.
The trustees’ vote means the agreement will be submitted to the state General Assembly. If approved, the collective bargaining agreement will be in effect through June 30, 2024.
“We approached these negotiations with the agenda of creating an agreement that would permit research at the University to thrive and grow while being fiscally competitive to grant funding organizations,” President Thomas Katsouleas said in his memorandum transmitting the agreement to trustees for their consideration.
Postdocs are researchers who hold a doctoral degree or equivalent, and are appointed on either an individual research grant from an external sponsor or with department/school resources paid by the university.
Postdoc appointments are temporary and for a fixed duration, typically for one year and no more than five total years. The individual is considered an employee of the university, eligible to receive compensation for the services performed during their appointments.
Some specifics in the agreement, if approved, include:
- A salary minimum will be set for postdocs at $50,500, prorated for appointments less than one year or for positions that are less than full time; with a provision that the salary for new appointments or reappointments will be increased if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) raise the minimum salary for postdocs above $50,500.
- After being brought to the $50,500 minimum, current postdocs who were on the payroll as of December. 13, 2019 and who remain on the payroll as of March 1, 2020, will receive a 1.5% salary increase. On the date of their first reappointment after March 1, 2020, all current postdocs will receive a 1.5% salary increase or have their salary set at $53,000 annually, whichever is higher. Thereafter, during the term of the collective bargaining agreement, postdocs will receive a 3% increase upon each annual reappointment, or the NIH minimum, whichever is greater.
- New postdocs who were not on the payroll as of Dec. 13, 2019, will receive a 3% increase to their annual salary effective on the start date of any reappointment(s) or the NIH minimum salary, whichever is greater.
- The agreement confirms that the University retains the right, among other things, to recruit, hire, appoint, reappoint, transfer, evaluate, discipline and dismiss postdocs. UConn also exercises sole authority on all decisions involving academic and research policy matters.
- It also establishes that postdocs have the right to work with the faculty member with whom they work on research – their principal investigator (PI) – to develop an individual plan for their professional development, and may receive annual written evaluations from the PI.
- It also establishes conditions under which the postdocs can opt to participate in the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP), while clarifying they are not eligible for retiree healthcare by virtue of their service as a postdoc; and sets out specifics of participation in healthcare plans.