Postdocs React to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 2

Postdocs React to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 2

This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Adriana Bankston. It is the second of two posts (the first post can be found here). Our paper on the effect of the FLSA on postdoc salaries has now been updated here, with analysis of how the injunction and collapse of the updates to the FLSA affected postdocs. Comments to the Department of Labor on a new set of updates were submitted by both the National and UAW5810 branch of the Union of Auto Workers, specifically addressing postdocs.   As stated in the previous post, Future of Research has been tracking the national compliance of institutions with the FLSA ruling both before and after the injunction. Unfortunately, some institutions, including MSU, chose to cancel salary raises for their postdocs, causing a great deal of chaos and confusion. To find out how postdocs in this situation felt, in this second blog post, we spoke with postdocs at MSU whose salaries were cancelled following the injunction.   The effects of cancelling salary raises   Michigan State University (MSU) was one of the institutions where postdoctoral salary raises were cancelled. A common thread among MSU postdocs we interviewed, who wished to remain anonymous, was feeling underappreciated. One MSU postdoc states having had “a constant feeling of being under-appreciated, over-worked, professionally frustrated, and constantly pulling the thrown-in-towel out of the ‘screw-academia’ pile” for the past two years. Postdocs at MSU stated that the initial FLSA ruling gave them a bit of hope. It gave one postdoc the impression that “these past months waiting for a decision to be made were worth it” and made...
Postdoc Reactions to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 1

Postdoc Reactions to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 1

  This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Adriana Bankston. Although postdocs are highly skilled, PhD-level scientists, they have been a historically underpaid segment of the biomedical workforce. While advocating for increased postdoctoral salaries had been previously attempted, not much has changed, and there was still not much hope in terms of better pay in 2016. This was about to change on December 1st, 2016, when the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ruling from the Department of Labor was to result in increased salaries for full-time postdocs from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. At Future of Research, we have been tracking the national compliance of institutions with the FLSA ruling at various timepoints before this date, and subsequently published the results in F1000Research on November 17th, 2016. On November 22nd, 2016, a preliminary injunction against the Department of Labor was granted nationwide, delaying the FLSA implementation. Since that time, Future of Research has been once again tracking how institutions responded to the injunction nationally. To get an idea of how postdocs felt in the current state of the research enterprise, in this first blog post, we spoke with postdocs at various universities whose salaries were raised following the injunction.   The effects of salary raises As expected, continuing to raise salaries despite the injunction was received positively, as it significantly helped some postdocs improve their own life situations. “The extra money is particularly helpful for my situation because my husband has a job in Nashville, and I’m completing my postdoctoral training at Yale University. Because of my salary, we are able to afford our apartments...
One week left to Register for FoR College Park meeting on Mentorship!

One week left to Register for FoR College Park meeting on Mentorship!

Registration is only open for ONE MORE WEEK for the Ethical and Inspiring Mentorship in STEM (FoR College Park) meeting to be held September 21st, 2017 at University of Maryland, as part of National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week #NPAW2017. You can find out more info about that meeting here, and register to attend here! Remember, registration can be refunded upon request at the meeting.   The symposium has four goals: To recognize and discuss the issues surrounding mentoring in STEM fields. To discuss effective mentorship and advocacy techniques at all levels: PhD, Postdoc, Faculty To provide a platform to connect like-minded young scientists who wish to effect change at their own institutions at the grassroots level. To inspire participants to practice effective mentorship practices and promote these skillsets to their peers and colleagues at their own institutions.   Come join us for a day of discussions, and workshops to come up with solutions to the problems we currently face in providing and receiving effective mentoring!   Also don’t forget – on Sept 12, from 1-2pm EST Future of Research (@FORsymp) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (@SciNetUCS) will co-host a Tweetchat on “Mentoring the future,” talking about what mentoring in science is/should be, and how we should change the culture of mentoring in science. Follow along at #MentoringFutureSci Questions will be posting the questions from the @FORsymp account and then made that into a Storify, such as we did here for the #forchangingscience tweetchat we held recently. Invited participants include: The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN): @NRMNET The Future PI Slack Channel: @FuturePI_Slack Addgene: @Addgene Labmosphere: @labmosphere Postdoc Pinar Gurel: @pinar_gurel Corey Welch, Director, STEM Scholars Program for...
The FLSA and postdoc salaries: actions and where things currently stand

The FLSA and postdoc salaries: actions and where things currently stand

If you’ve been following along with out FLSA and postdocs resource, you’ll know that on December 1st, 2016, the threshold at which salaried workers (including all postdocs, regardless of visa or fellowship status) receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week was due to increase from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This was delayed by an injunction granted November 22nd, 2016 (see here for more information), and the updates were declared invalid on August 31st, 2017.   ACTION: There is a new call for comments in a Department of Labor Request for Information here (guidelines for empoyer comments are here). You are able to make comments until September 25th.   We have revised our paper on the FLSA and postdocs and this will appear in the next couple of days here (you can see our data from before the injunction in this first version). We tracked how institutions responded to the injunction and removal of a federal mandate for salary raises for postdocs, particularly given that the NIH decided to keep their new NRSA postdoctoral salary levels at the levels set by the FLSA updates.   The major finding from our second round of data collection is that around 60% of postdocs are at institutions whose policies have changed to raise salaries, even after the injunction. 5 institutions who originally cancelled plans to raise salaries (University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, Brigham and Women’s (Boston, MA), Iowa State University and Massachusetts General Hospital) have since reversed their plans to varying degrees. You can find out more in the FLSA and postdocs resource under the first tab,...
Tweetchat on Mentoring the Future, September 12

Tweetchat on Mentoring the Future, September 12

  On Sept 12, from 1-2pm EST Future of Research (@FORsymp) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (@SciNetUCS) will co-host a Tweetchat on “Mentoring the future,” talking about what mentoring in science is/should be, and how we should change the culture of mentoring in science. Follow along at #MentoringFutureSci   Questions will be posting the questions from the @FORsymp account and then made that into a Storify, such as we did here for the #forchangingscience tweetchat we held recently. Invited participants include: The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN): @NRMNET The Future PI Slack Channel: @FuturePI_Slack Addgene: @Addgene Labmosphere: @labmosphere Postdoc Pinar Gurel: @pinar_gurel Corey Welch, Director, STEM Scholars Program for UR-students: @CoreyWelch_STEM   This chat is to help prepare us for discussions at the Ethical and Inspiring Mentorship in STEM (FoR College Park) meeting to be held September 21st, 2017 at University of Maryland, as part of National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week #NPAW2017. You can find out more info about that meeting here, and register to attend here!     This event is co-hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists.  ...
Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   Postdoctoral scholars make up a large segment of the biomedical workforce, and tracking their career trajectories is imperative for providing them with the most appropriate training. This information would also facilitate current postdocs to connect with former trainees who transitioned into various career paths, and thus develop a network of professionals to have as a resource throughout their careers.   Despite the importance of tracking postdoctoral career outcomes, data on this topic are difficult to obtain, and the best methods for data collection are still being debated in the scientific community. The speakers in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs,” attempted to address some of these issues. One of the main speakers in this session was Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor, Managing Director at the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan.   What is the recent state of the biomedical research workforce? Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor’s talk entitled “Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes” began with the traditional definition of the postdoc experience as an apprenticeship for an independent academic research career. However, she pointed out that fewer academic research positions exist than the number of graduate students and postdocs, and trainees are now pursuing a variety of different career paths. Although a variety of approaches have been taken to their track career outcomes to date, there are still a lot of unknowns (shown...