After six weeks of striking, academic employees represented by United Auto Workers, or UAW, 2865 and SRU-UAW voted to ratify the tentative agreements with the University of California on Friday — bringing an end to the largest academic workers’ strike in U.S. history.
The agreement was ratified by 62% of voters in UAW 2865 and 68% of voters in SRU-UAW, with a total of 18,483 academic student employees and 14,697 student researchers participating across all 10 UC campuses, according to a UAW press release.
While the UAW press release described the voter turnout as “historically high,” academic employees at UC Merced, UCSB and UCSC voted in majority against ratification.
During the five-day voting period which began Monday, some union members advocated for employees and researchers to vote “no,” asserting that a better contract could be negotiated.
Specifically, some members alleged that the benefits of ratification are not evenly distributed across UC campuses and said more strides need to be made for parents and employees with disabilities under the new contract.
“Our fight is not over to expand remission for NRST, to win more benefits for student-parents, and to expand rights and protections for workers with disabilities,” read a press release by bargaining team representatives from Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
Under the new contract, the lowest-paid teaching assistant at UC Berkeley will be paid $36,500 for 50% time work, while the lowest-paid student researcher will receive $34,564.50 starting Oct. 1, 2024, a notable drop from the original demand for a $54,000 base wage.
With ratification, striking members are expected to return to work immediately.