March 13, 2009


SUBJECT:    Postdoctoral Scholars and Unionization

Dear Colleagues,

The University recently entered into bargaining with the United Auto Workers (UAW) as the exclusive representative of postdoctoral scholars. The bargaining process is proceeding at a rapid pace, and we want to inform Senate faculty about some of the issues concerning unionization of postdoctoral scholars that have been brought to our attention recently. For instance, the UAW has introduced such concepts as:

* dual mentors
* a 40-hour work week
* guaranteed employment following the postdoctoral period
* guaranteed access to professional development activities

Some of these issues have the potential to redefine our understanding of postdoctoral scholars and their role in advanced training and research, with potentially long term ramifications for UCSD's research enterprise.

This is a critical discussion requiring faculty input, and campuses have let the Office of the President know that there needs to be broad consultation concerning academic matters. Although this notice has been sent to Academic Senate faculty, we urge you to share this information with all colleagues who have an interest in mentoring postdoctoral scholars.

Additional information on the proposals, a bargaining update, and the upcoming authorization-to-strike vote may be found at, and by following the "Bargaining Update" and "Unit News and Information" links on that page.

Please bear in mind that while it is permissible to express your beliefs, it is not permissible to question or coerce postdoctoral scholars regarding their membership in a union or their support of a union.

Professor Morton Printz represents San Diego on the UC bargaining team. We invite you to send comments or questions to Professor Printz ( and to Vice Chancellor for Research Art Ellis (, whose office has oversight of postdoctoral scholars at UCSD. Please make every effort to submit comments by Friday, March 20.


Daniel J. Donoghue, Chair
Academic Senate, San Diego Division