This story was updated 5/22/23 to include EECS and data science course staffers’ vote to ratify the tentative agreement between UC Berkeley and their union, UAW 2865.
The agreement was tentatively agreed upon by campus and the union about one week ago. Shortly thereafter, the agreement faced a ratification vote between May 16 and May 22 among UAW 2865 members in good standing who have worked as undergraduate academic student employees, or ASEs, in these courses.
Preliminary results of the vote show out of 268 total votes, 224 of them, or about 83.6%, moved to ratify the contract, according to an announcement on a Slack group about these staffing negotiations. While the results of the vote are preliminary, the ASEs have “certainly” ratified the deal, a contract bargaining update from UAW 2865 states.
The preliminary results reflect widespread voter approval but only a small fraction of the many hundreds of undergraduate ASEs who have worked in EECS and data science courses. In spring 2023, these courses employed about 700 undergraduate ASEs.
Last December, UAW 2865 members across the UC system voted to ratify their statewide contract. In the election, 18,483 ASEs voted, according to an email from UC-UAW communications, and, according to a UC system webpage, there are about 19,655 ASEs across the state.
First set forth by UC Berkeley, the agreement lays out wage and fee remission standards for two positions: undergraduate course staff, or UCS, 1 and 2.
Under the agreement, UCS1s can take on both group tutor and reader duties — such as grading, holding office hours and developing software for the course. UCS2s can also carry out the duties of UCS1s, but also be responsible for a wider array of tasks — with managing other ASEs and teaching discussion, labs and review sessions among them.
The plan entitles UCS2s to salaries of $1,075 per month for eight-hour work weeks and UCS1s would be paid $22.69 hourly starting in the 2023-24 school year.
The tentative agreement represents an increase in wages for eight-hour salaried undergraduate workers from their current $1,000 monthly compensation; although, it reflects a cut from the $1,250 secured by UAW 2865’s UC-wide contract, ratified late last year.
Though the statewide contract would guarantee full fee remission for UCS2s, parties’ tentative agreement sets up fee remissions of 40%, 50% and 60% for those working eight, 10 and 12 hours per week, respectively. UCS2s working more than 12 hours per week, however, would receive full fee remission.
These negotiations originally intended to address staffing increases in EECS and data science courses.
“It is the intent of the parties to discuss the work intensity, improve working conditions, decrease wait times for instructional services, and improve the overall quality of instruction of ASEs in certain courses,” states the current ASE contract between UAW 2865 and the UC system.
The agreement, however, does not obligate campus to increase staffing in these courses, despite hopes that slimming wages and fee remissions would reserve funds for hiring more ASEs and, thus, prevent cases of staff overwork, shorten office hours queues and address other perceived shortfalls in campus computing education.
In mid-April, UAW 2865 alleged the university’s moves on and off the bargaining table constituted 13 violations of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act. As part of the deal, the union will drop the charge.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.