We had our first full bargaining session with NIH management this week. Our bargaining committee came prepared with many well-thought-out proposals, ready to engage in a productive bargaining process with the NIH. However, we were disappointed by the response we were met with:

  • We proposed a system for Fellows to access their own personnel files and paystubs and for the elected leadership of our union to know who is currently a Fellow at the NIH. The response from OITE? “We don’t know who works here.”

  • We proposed language that would protect current NIH services that are popular among Fellows, such as professional development and even Take Your Child To Work Day, and they refused to commit to continuing them.

  • When discussing contract articles that should have been simple and easy to agree to, NIH attempted to overreach in their demands, and repeatedly spoke down to us.

We were professional and prepared and agreed to several of their proposals, but they agreed to none of ours. NIH management repeatedly cited “internal policy” as a reason to not negotiate, even though negotiating over internal policy is exactly what it means to form a union!

It’s clear that professionalism and preparation are not enough to win a strong first contract. We need mass participation from all Fellows. So what can you do?

In solidarity,

Ian Fucci, CRTA Postdoc, NCI, Frederick 

Tara Fischer, Research Fellow, NINDS, Bethesda

Zohirul Islam, Visiting Fellow, NIAID, Bethesda

Rosa Lafer-Sousa, IRTA Postdoc, NIMH, Bethesda

Alexander Jordan Lara, Postbac, NIDCR, Bethesda

Marjorie Levinstein, IRTA Postdoc, NIDA, Baltimore

Amilcar Rodriguez, Predoc, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park North Carolina

Emilya Ventriglia, Predoc, NIMH, Bethesda

Michaela Yamine, Postbac, NHLBI, Bethesda