Labour in the News

Postdocs at the University of Saskatchewan

by Issac Armstrong, PSAC Regional Representative

The Postdocs of the PSAC 40004 Local have been bargaining with the University for our first collective agreement since October 2017. We are into the hardest part of bargaining – negotiating improvements to salaries and benefits.

Did you know?

University of Saskatchewan Postdoctoral Fellows (Postdocs):

  • Are highly educated researchers, often with greater than 10 years of post-secondary education;
  • Are full time staff;
  • Contribute to the academic success of the University through innovative research and publications, grant income, graduate student mentorship and training, and production of intellectual property.

These contributions are essential to the University’s status as a U15 research institute.

However, Postdocs suffer poor working conditions and economic hardship:

  • We are hired as “trainees” (not true employees)
  • We do not pay into CPP or EI, and are thus not eligible for nationally recognised labour rights such as parental leave;
  • Our minimum salary is $35000/year, which equates to less than $17/hour. 30% of our PDFs are paid below $40k/year.
  • Unlike all other full time staff at the U of S, we are not offered extended health and dental benefits.

These conditions have a particular impact on women postdocs, who are often forced to choose between leaving Academia for industry or other careers, or forgoing or delaying starting a family. We believe this is a critical contributor to the low percentage of women in tenure-track Faculty and other high-level University positions.

We are asking only for equity with other full-time staff at the University: to be treated as true employees; to receive equal extended health and dental benefits; and to have a modest increase to the minimum postdoc salary which reflects our education, experience and value to the University.

The University has rejected all these proposals, and has instead proposed The University is proposing ABSOLUTELY NO SALARY INCREASES to Postdocs – even those at the very bottom line. No previous contract at the University has ever resulted in such a wage freeze. Perhaps more importantly, the slow speed at which our negotiations continue to move is prolonging the hardship that PDFs currently face.

Please show your support by signing our petition:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/University_of_Saskatchewan_U_of_S_Postdocs_Deserve_a_Living_Wage/

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information or to start a discussion: psac40004@gmail.com or executive.sps@usask.ca