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Postdoc pay raise: What collective action can do for us all

postdoc protest angel kuo (2).jpg
Postdoctoral researchers gather in front of the Icahn Laboratory before heading to Nassau Hall.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

The following is an open letter and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit to the Opinion Section, click here.

This letter was sent to Princeton postdoctoral researchers on Friday, Jan. 27. 


By now, you’ve probably heard that Princeton has responded to our demands for improvements to postdoc compensation by increasing the minimum salary from $54,840 to $65,000 — an 18.5 percent raise.

This offer is the direct result of efforts by postdocs, including the Open Letter we sent to the deans by email on Jan. 19 after circulating it publicly since early December. This is a cause for celebration! It demonstrates that collective action works and that we have power. A majority of you signed to show support, across departments where more than 90 percent of us work. We helped ourselves bring about this change. 

But this is just a start. We are still moving forward with our plan to hand-deliver the Open Letter to Dean Jarrett and Provost Prentice this MONDAY (1/30) at NOON. In fact, many of us are more galvanized than before to demand what we deserve. We’ve seen what we can do.

Princeton’s offer is a great first step, but more is needed:  

1. We deserve more than a salary increase that allows for “more competitive” recruitment. We need a salary that covers the cost of housing, food, and childcare in Princeton. The Open Letter demanded the same 25 percent raise that graduate students received in 2022 (to $68,550), a yearly increase to track continued inflation, and an experience-based scale to acknowledge the value we bring to Princeton over time. Princeton did not meet these asks. 

2. The new policy excludes more senior researchers, many of whom also experience significant financial pressures while at Princeton. The salaries of senior scholars should be scaled to reflect their experience.  


3. Princeton has yet to acknowledge our letter, nor did they consult us in making these decisions. We deserve much more transparency and respect. We deserve a seat at the table.

4. As we have seen across the country, universities are offering pay raises as a preemptive tactic: they think it will suppress collective action. An announcement being made so quickly on the eve of our Monday walk to the deans cannot be a coincidence.

So NOW is the time for you to show up. Imagine what we might be able to achieve with even more people and an even louder, unified voice. This is an opportunity to ride the momentum and strengthen our collective power.  

We will meet in front of Icahn Laboratory at noon on Monday, Jan. 30 and walk over at 12:15 p.m. to deliver our signatures. Bring your colleagues and friends! 

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Congratulations to all and in solidarity, 

Princeton University Postdocs and Scholars (PUPS)

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this piece incorrectly linked to a different open letter. The ‘Prince’ regrets this error.