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Postdoctoral researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai started striking Wednesday, following what their union said has been more than a year of bargaining without the two sides being able to agree on what would be their first labor contract together.

The union—the Sinai Postdoctoral Organizing Committee, affiliated with the United Autoworkers—won its election in June 2022 and represents more than 500 researchers, a union spokesperson said.

“Sinai has illegally threatened international workers, made unilateral changes to housing practices, and failed to provide information in a timely manner,” the union said in a news release Wednesday. “Sinai has rejected proposals to offer childcare subsidies so parents can afford to stay on the job, and to extend access to campus housing, even as New York City’s housing crisis worsens.”

Andrea Joseph, a postdoctoral fellow, said in the release that the medical school’s policies “hold out a ‘Need Not Apply’ sign to single mothers, parents and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They have already forced too many people off their career paths, simply because they cannot afford to participate.”

In an emailed statement, an Icahn spokesperson said the school remains “committed to reaching an agreement.”

“We offered a comprehensive package proposal that included minimum pay of $72,500 for new postdocs, rising to $80,000 for those with four years’ experience … an increase of more than 23 percent from current levels,” the Icahn spokesperson said. “We also offered to guarantee three years of subsidized housing to all postdocs, six weeks of paid parental leave, and improvements in many other economic and non-economic areas.”