Postdocs and Researchers at the University of Washington Are on Strike


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Hundreds will gather for a strike kickoff rally at 12pm on Red Square.

Seattle, WA – 2,400 UW Postdoctoral Researchers and Research Scientists/Engineers (RSEs) at the University of Washington are on strike after not reaching agreement with UW administration in bargaining. They will head to the picket lines beginning at 5am. Hundreds will gather Wednesday for a strike kickoff rally at 12pm on Red Square. Press are encouraged to attend.

“We love our research but UW left us no choice. 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,” said Rebecca Bluett, Postdoctoral Scholar at UW.

“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 union of Postdocs, RSEs and Academic Student Employees at UW.

Picket locations are as follows (see map below):

  • NE 45th St & Memorial Way NE (SW corner)
  • 15th Ave NE & W Stevens Way NE (NE corner)
  • Montlake Triangle: NE Pacific St & Montlake Blvd NE
  • SLU: Mercer St (between 8th and 9th Ave N)

At issue still for RSEs are three core demands: support for an inclusive workforce—including the same harassment prevention program for RSEs that is available for Postdocs and student employees, support for childcare, and fair compensation. For Postdocs, the biggest sticking point is that UW is refusing to pay Postdocs a living wage in line with state minimum wage standards.

The impacts of the strike will be felt across the university system and beyond. There are 6,000 Academic Student Employees, graduate students who work as Research and Teaching Assistants at UW, who have been pledging to respect the picket lines. The MLK Labor Council sanctioned the strike, as did the Joint Council for Teamsters 28. Collectively these labor organizations represent over 100,000 workers in King County, who will be receiving information about the strike and be urged to not cross the picket line.

Research Scientists/Engineers (RSEs) and Postdocs perform a wide range of critical research, from developing new therapies to fight disease, designing policy to tackle climate change, advancing new technologies that will shape the future of research, and much more. Postdocs and RSEs are part of UAW 4121, the union of just shy of 1,500 staff researchers, 900 Postdocs, and over 6,000 Academic Student Employees at UW.

Each unit has been in bargaining with the UW administration for months—Postdocs are negotiating a successor agreement and these are initial contract negotiations for RSEs, who won their union one year ago on June 10.

Updates will be shared as they become available.

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