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Congress to the Rescue!

The postdocs at the University of California have been negotiating with the school over issues of compensation, DrugMonkey says. But, "unsurprisingly one of their favorite tactics when dealing with student/transient employee concerns is to delay," he says. However, DrugMonkey adds, the postdocs may have themselves an interesting set of "allies" in three California Democratic representatives who sit on the House Education and Labor Committee: George Miller, Barbara Lee, and Lynn Woolsey. The Science Careers blog says the three reps sent a letter to the acting comptroller general of the US Government Accountability Office to ask him to investigate "how universities, including the University of California, track how funds provided for laboratory research grants are spent," and noted that many researchers are paid with federal funds. UC's inability to figure out how much their postdocs should be paid raises concerns about their ability to track research funds, the letter continues, according to the blog. "The mildly worded query appears to call UC's bluff on one of the tactics it has used to drag out the talks and avoid committing to the longevity-based pay raises the union has demanded," the blog continues. "The not-very-veiled implication appears to be that UC might find it less unpleasant to settle with the postdocs than to tangle with the committee." DrugMonkey's not sure how much the three reps can help, but has another task for Congress: "I wonder if Congress can lay a finger on the accountant magickery that disposes of overhead funds."