Below are some questions that postdocs frequently address to the Postdoc Office at UCSF. Additional questions may be addressed to the HR administrator for your department or the UCSF Labor Relations Office. You can also contact the United Auto Workers Union Local 5810, which represents postdocs at UC, at (510) 845-5726 or email email@example.com.
What is a union? A union is an organization that collectively bargains the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of a particular group of employees. It acts as your exclusive representative for these purposes. In order for the union to become your exclusive representative, a sufficient number of employees must show an interest in being represented. The United Auto Workers Union Local 5810 represents postdocs at all of the University of California's ten campuses.
What does it mean to be exclusively represented? When a union represents you, it also represents all employees like you throughout the UC system. The union has the authority and the exclusive right to negotiate with UC management in regard to wages, benefits, and working conditions for postdocs at UC.
How did the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) Local 5810 become my exclusive representative? The UAW collected enough authorization cards from postdocs at all UC campuses to become your collective bargaining representative. A collective bargaining agreement between UAW and UC was reached in mid-August 2010. The agreement was effective through September 30, 2015. An extension was approved through September 2016, and a new contract was ratified in October 2016 that is effective October 17, 2016 through September 30, 2020.
What's in the bargaining agreement? You can view the entire bargaining agreement on the website of the UC Office of the President.
What's the difference between being a union "member" and being "represented"? As the exclusive representative, the union has a duty to represent both members and agency fee payers; however, only members may vote in elections for officers and on ratification.
I don't want to pay Union dues or fees, can I opt out ? In a word, no. Membership in the Union is up to you. By law you cannot be forced to join the Union. However, you will have to pay something to the Union for its representation anyway. These are called "agency fees" or "fair share fees." As a condition of your appointment, you must agree to pay fair share fees or, if you elect to join the Union as a member, dues from your stipend or salary. A deduction authorization form, which will also allow you to choose whether to be a member of the Union or not, will be provided to you during the hiring process after you arrive on campus. As of August 2015, fare share fees are currently 1.12% of your gross pay; Union dues are 1.44% of gross pay.
How is the amount of union dues established? The Union determines the amount of dues and fees (not the University).
When I was hired, I indicated on the deduction authorization form that I didn't want to be a member, but now I have changed my mind. Can I join the Union as a member now? You can join the Union anytime, or conversely, elect not to be a member after joining initially. Just ask your HR/payroll administrator to give you another deduction authorization form and indicate your new choice on the form. The form will be turned into Labor Relations, who will in turn submit the form to the Union. Your HR/payroll administrator will also make the appropriate change in your payroll deduction, i.e. from fare share fees to dues or vice versa.
Does UC have an opinion about whether or not employees should be unionized? UC does not take any position on whether employees should be represented by unions. UC supports employees' rights to determine for themselves whether or not they think unionization is beneficial.
I am a postdoc paid-direct and my salary comes directly from the foundation that supports me. How do I pay my dues to the Union? If you do not get a paycheck from UCSF, but you are a UCSF postdoc, then you will need to pay your dues or fair share fees directly to the Union. Please contact the Union directly and ask them how they want you to do this. Many paid-direct postdocs (title code 3254) also have a postdoc employee (title code 3252) "payline" in the payroll system, which is sometimes set up to pay for your benefits or additional salary. If you have this additional payline, your dues or fees will be deducted from this portion of your pay. New postdocs may want to ask their UCSF HR representative to explain how their particular position has been set up in payroll.