UAW Local 5810

UAW Local 5810 is the labor union representing postdoctoral researchers at the University of California.[1] It is an affiliate of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, AFL-CIO or, UAW. UAW Local 5810 was chartered in 2008.[2] The stand-alone postdoctoral scholar contract negotiated between UC and UAW is notable for being the first of its kind in the United States.[3]


Local 5810 represents over 6,000 postdoctoral researchers at the University of California,[4] or approximately one tenth[5] of all postdoctoral researchers in the United States.

UC postdocs work in all fields of the academy, but are overwhelmingly concentrated in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Postdocs perform highly technical work, often under exacting conditions.[6] Prior to ratification of their first contract, the majority of postdocs at UC were paid less than $41,000 per year.[7]


In 2005, a group of postdoctoral researchers employed by the UC, many of whom were previously members of UAW Local 2865[8] and other local unions representing academic student employees, approached the UAW and asked for help forming a union. The group began an organizing drive as Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/UAW or PRO/UAW.

On August 19, 2008, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) certified that a majority of UC postdocs had chosen PRO/UAW as their union.[2] Contract negotiations began in February 2009.[6]

Contract negotiations

Negotiations of the first contract, which spanned a year and a half,[9] were protracted and contentious.[10] During that time, union supporters picketed[11] at all ten University of California campuses. On April 30, 2010, the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor held a field hearing at UC Berkeley to evaluate the unusually lengthy amount of time it was taking to reach agreement.[12]

During the hearing, Vice President of Human Resources for the University of California Dwaine Duckett testified that the delay was due to difficulty tracking complex funding formulas used to allocate postdoc salaries. A postdoctoral researcher also testified about her difficult experience as an expectant and new mother within the UC system.

After the hearing, Committee Chairman George Miller wrote UC President Mark Yudof expressing "deep concern"[13] about UC's slow-paced approach, saying he "left the hearing thoroughly disappointed"[6] in UC's efforts to reach agreement. Congressman Miller was then joined by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the agency to look into "how universities, including the University of California, track how funds provided for laboratory research grants are spent."[14]

First contract

The contract[15] was ratified on August 11, 2010 with 96 percent of the vote,[16] and made significant advances in pay, health benefits and safety on the job for postdocs.[3] Postdoc negotiators were successful in linking minimum salaries to an experience-based scale set by the NIH for NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowships.[17] UC postdocs are guaranteed minimum salary increases with every year of experience.[17]

Second contract

As of September 2015, the union was in negotiations for a second contract.[18][19]


  1. Minogue, Kristen (13 August 2010). "California Postdocs Embrace Union Contract". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. 1 2 Lieff Benderly, Beryl (August 29, 2008). "University of California Postdoc Union Wins Official Recognition". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 Gordon, Larry (August 13, 2010). "UC researchers ratify their first union contract". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  4. "Postdocs Form Union". Nature Magazine. September 1, 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  5. Tuna, Cari (August 12, 2010). "Postdoctoral Researchers in California Ratify Labor Deal". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 Asimov, Nanette (June 27, 2010). "UC researchers struggle to obtain better wages". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  7. Asimov, Nanette (August 13, 2010). "UC, postdoctoral researchers achieve labor pact". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  8. Lieff Benderly, Beryl (August 1, 2008). "Taken for Granted: The Fat Lady Sings". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  9. Lieff Benderly, Beryl (September 3, 2010). "Taken for Granted: The New California Postdoc Contract". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  10. Hasemyer, David (July 6, 2009). "UC labor union significant for postdoctoral research". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  11. Bachman, Rebecca (December 8, 2009). "UC Budget Numbers Don't Add Up, Scholars Claim". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  12. "Understanding Problems in First Contract Negotiations: Post-Doctoral Scholar Bargaining at the University of California". U.S. House Education and Labor Committee. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  13. Lief Benderly, Beryl (May 12, 2010). "House Committee Chair Miller Urges Speedy Resolution of Postdoc Contract in Letter to University of California President". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  14. Lief Benderly, Beryl (June 28, 2010). "House Committee Questions University of California's Accounting for Research Funds". Science Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  15. "Current Agreement". University of California. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  16. "UC Postdocs Ratify First Union Contract". KQED. August 12, 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  17. 1 2 Jump, Paul (August 12, 2010). "California postdocs win better employment terms". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  18. Sun, Cheryl (2015-09-17). "Postdocs Petition For UC-Wide Improvements". The Daily Nexus. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  19. Simmons, Christopher (2015-09-21). "Postdocs Urge UC to Comply with President Obama's New DOL Rule and Pay Them Fairly". California Newswire. Retrieved 2016-05-16.

External links

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