Represented by the UAW union, 48,000 academic workers across the UC campuses are negotiating with the university to demand greater progress on social and economic issues.
Four bargaining units met with UC representatives Tuesday to negotiate issues such as higher compensation, job security, protections against abusive conduct and disability justice for student employees, according to a UAW flier.
“Our overarching goal in these negotiations are multi-year agreements that recognize these employees’ essential contributions to the UC community with fair pay, family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment,” said UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Erika Cervantes in an email.
The units are composed of UC academic student employees, student researchers, postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, all of which had their own demands for social and economic equity.
According to Sarah Arveson, a postdoctoral researcher and vice president of UAW 5810, which represents postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, UAW has attempted to negotiate with the UC system for many months with little or no success.
“They have attempted to claw back important rights and benefits for all academic workers, instead of moving on our proposals for fair compensation to address rent burden, climate-friendly commuting incentives, real protections against abusive conduct and bullying, and childcare subsidies, to name a few,” Arveson said in an email.
Arveson added that UC academic workers are able to collaborate across campuses because they all face common needs that need to be addressed.
Arveson also noted the vast majority of UC academic workers are rent-burdened and often put more than 50% of their salaries toward rent.
“We do the majority of teaching and research at UC. Our members do the work that generates billions in research funding for UC each year,” Arveson said in an email. “Despite our contributions to UC, we all work in difficult conditions while being severely undercompensated.”
A flier for Tuesday’s event stated that the UAW proposed improvements in areas such as increased minimum salary for graduate and postdoctoral students, free public transit passes and childcare reimbursement.
Kai Yui Samuel Chan, recording secretary of UAW 2865 at UC Berkeley, said the bargaining session Tuesday was uneventful for the union.
“UC’s failure to meet our bargaining demands and to support a diverse workforce undermines the quality of research and education,” Chan said in an email. “Compensation that doesn’t match the cost of living and inequitable working conditions is driving too many people out of academia.”
Chan noted that there will be more bargaining sessions in the upcoming weeks.
According to UCOP, the parties are meeting almost every day to keep the pace moving toward settlements.
“We highly value these employees’ role in supporting our students, faculty, and mission,” Cervantes said. “UC is deeply grateful for the tremendous resilience, flexibility, and unwavering commitment that our employees and the entire UC community have shown during the challenges of the past two and a half years.”