Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Northwestern University Postdoctoral Union seeks a ‘seat at the table’

A+dollar+sign+comes+out+of+a+Ph.D.+diploma.
Illustration by Ziye Wang
A major aim for the future union is to achieve better salaries. Postdocs at NU are currently paid a minimum salary of $56,484.

According to postdoctoral research fellow George Winstone, all postdoctoral students can agree on one thing: Their need for a union. A team of Northwestern postdocs are creating just that.

Born out of January 2023 conversations, the NU Postdoctoral Union is working toward better salaries and conditions for postdoctoral workers.

In the past, the University has not typically recognized organizations as unions until an election verifies majority support.

“Every single postdoc that I’ve interacted with has agreed that there is a need for something like a union to exist,” Winstone said.

NU’s postdoctoral union joins a league of others across the country, reflecting a growing trend of postdoctoral unions forming to demand better conditions.

The main goal is to negotiate with the University for better wages and working conditions, the organizing members said.

“A big motivating force is to balance the power dynamic in academia,” postdoctoral researcher Jacob Mann said. “In the current model, we can advocate for ourselves as much as we want, but without that legal power that we can achieve through a union, it still is ultimately up to the University.”

Mann said future union members hope to gain a “seat at the table” where they have bargaining power with the University.

Another major aim for the future union is to achieve better salaries. Postdocs at NU are currently paid a minimum salary of $56,484. Without competitive pay, NU loses postdocs to other careers or schools with better pay, according to postdoctoral fellow Neto Canton.

“We don’t feel we’re fairly compensated for our expertise and for our work as postdocs,” Canton said. “Without having a union, we don’t think we can advocate for ourselves to maintain or receive a fair wage based on our expertise.”

While the union is in its early stages, members plan to continue with their outreach efforts. 

Winstone said the future union is about more than just a contract — it’s about mutual care.

“We come into work every day,” Winstone said. “We like to see the people around us happy and treated with respect and dignity. Establishing a union is a move towards exactly that.”

Email: [email protected]

X: @lmschroeder_

Related Stories: 

‘The sky’s the limit’: Former NU postdoctoral research scientist Tristan Clemons reflects on sports, research, mentorship and more

‘Polymer science and powerlifting’: NU postdoctoral research associate and national powerlifting champion Joshua Tropp discusses intersection between science and sports

Postdoctoral fellow Bart van Alphen dies

More to Discover