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UAW 5810 contract is “bare minimum of what people can expect”

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After one and a half years of bargaining, UC postdoctoral scholars reflect on their current contract and the developments which have been made.


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DECEMBER 14, 2022

After a lengthy bargaining process, postdoctoral scholars in the UC system reflected on their efforts and the improvements made in their official contract.

Postdoctoral scholars, represented by United Auto Workers 5810, or UAW 5810, have been bargaining for their current contract for one and a half years, according to postdoctoral scholar and UAW 5810 bargaining team member Olivia Gunther. She said the bargaining team negotiated a salary increase of 20 to 27 percent for most postdoctoral scholars — to be implemented by October of next year — during the bargaining process.

Gunther added that postdoctoral scholars bargained for eight weeks of parental leave, which was previously only offered to second-year postdoctoral scholars. They also got their first childcare article into their contract, which Gunther said would help improve upon the current $2,500 annual package in child subsidies.

Appointments for postdoctoral researchers are now two years instead of one to increase job security, Gunther noted. The new contract also features article additions that prevent abusive conduct and bullying at the workplace, guaranteed leave time for immigrant postdoctoral scholars, additional protections for workers with disabilities and a commitment to free transit passes, according to Gunther.

“What we got in this contract is the bare minimum of what people can expect,” said postdoctoral fellow Evan Holloway. “There is no reason people should not ask for more in terms of wages and other benefits. We tried to highlight that this is not a cap on what the university can pay you or provide you.”

Though 90 percent of union members voted to ratify the new agreements, Holloway said the contract is a starting point. He met with several union members who voted “no” on the contract to understand their dissatisfaction, and they strategized ways to continue to build power and organize.

Holloway said the process was “frustrating” when the university did not come with the materials and data necessary to progress, arrived late to meetings or missed them completely. He noted that the university bargaining team would often arrive “unprepared” and “disorganized,” not having read through the proposal or confusing different unions.

The University of California Office of the President did not respond to these allegations as of press time.

“There’s been a really great sense of community coming out of a lot of this, and that community is breeding this desire to continue to help the graduate students in any way that we can,” said Gunther.

A no-strike clause in their labor contract prevents postdoctoral scholars from striking with graduate student instructors and graduate student researchers, according to Holloway. They must return to work now that the contracts have been ratified.

Postdoctoral scholars have collaborated and organized with graduate students to support their fight for a fair contract. On campus, postdoctoral scholars set up and tore down picket lines so graduate students could focus on the more challenging tasks, said Gunther.

“We will continue to provide the labor and our cutting-edge skills to continue to power the university,” Holloway said. “We are the workers that make the University of California one of the top institutions in the world of research.”

Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Evan Holloway's name.

Contact Madison Creekbaum at 


DECEMBER 23, 2022