My name is Ajay Ravindranathan and I am a Specialist in the Pathology department at UCSF. Before coming to the Pathology Department, I was a Senior Scientist at a UCSF affiliated institution.

Over my tenure at UCSF, I have been very fortunate to have supportive supervisors who took a genuine effort in mentoring me and ensuring that I was being compensated adequately. That, unfortunately, has not been the case with a number of my colleagues. I have witnessed colleagues put up with what can best be characterized as abuse, as a consequence of being on a visa and job opportunities being severely limited. I have also seen colleagues being told that their hours would be cut to just below the level that benefits would have to be paid, due to ongoing funding issues. It was however, made very clear to them that the work would still be full-time, since it was in their best interest for the work to be published in a timely fashion.

Further, since academic researcher positions are one-year contracts, one can be an academic researcher for years, only to have the position not renewed and no severance provided. In the case of one of my ex-colleagues, she was told that her appointment would not be renewed the day she was scheduled to leave on maternity leave. Her current contract was scheduled to end when she would be away on leave.

I have witnessed first-hand how the unionization by the post-doctoral researchers at UCSF has resulted in compensation increases, commensurate with living in one of the most expensive areas of the country. In addition, guidelines for paid time-off and maternity leave for post-docs were also established. Similarly, the SRAs have negotiated a contract that provided them additional compensation and job security.

As one of the few unrepresented groups workers at UC, I feel it is in our best interest to come together and use our collective bargaining power to improve working conditions for academic researchers. I have been lucky to work for empathetic and fair supervisors, but not everyone is as fortunate. To ensure that every academic researcher gets treated fairly, I strongly believe it is in every academic researcher’s best interest to join the Union.

United we stand,

Ajay