Bargaining update: Progress on key articles but more action is needed!
In recognition of workers’ growing power, UC made movement on key issue areas like disability justice, making its most meaningful proposals to date at the Postdoc and SR tables regarding interim accommodations. The University also made economic proposals at 3 of the 4 bargaining tables after month(s) of no responses. This is exciting news, and a testament to the tremendous power Academic Workers displayed during last week’s mass meetings. Nonetheless, there is more work to be done, and UC has made it clear they won’t settle a fair contract unless they feel more pressure.

Please read on for a *brief* summary of what happened in each of last week’s bargaining sessions (you can click here for more detailed info on the latest proposals for each unit):

Academic Researchers
UC passed a proposal on compensation that presents only a slightly smaller wage cut for Academic Researchers: a mere 4% in 2023, and a 3% raise (a move from their previous 2% offer) in subsequent years. When asked how that would hold up against inflation and rising housing expenses, UC management responded that they “pay for labor, not for expenses”. If you haven’t already, please fill out the AR Housing/Cost of Living Survey. ARs passed a package that would enshrine better orientations for new ARs and an improved process to solve contract violations. The next bargaining session is this Friday Oct 21st.

Academic Student Employees
The Union made proposals on key topics, including grievance and arbitration and workload. The university continues to propose effective wage cuts for ASEs (7%/3%/3%/3%), describing their proposal as “generous”. However, they did make movement on parental leave and campus fees, proposing 100% remission of campus fees, 8 weeks of paid parental leave and 5 weeks of other medical leave.

After months of refusing to go beyond the bare legal minimum regarding disability access, the University finally showed movement, accepting large parts of Postdocs’ proposal to add interim accommodations and include information about disability access in appointment letters, and creating a joint Union-UC committee to improve access needs. Postdocs made a counter proposal and are waiting on UC’s response.

Student Researchers
The university continues to propose effectively wage cuts for SRs (7% vs. 8.7% inflation this year, with 3% raises in following years), saying both that it “expects employees to bear out the cost of [housing] with their salary” and that “the university doesn’t give salary increases based on inflation or cost of living”. It is absolutely essential that SR continue to advocate for a living wage: a system-wide base pay of $54,000 and yearly cost-of-living adjustments.

SRs presented a package on access needs that reaffirms our priorities of supervisor training, centralized interim accommodations, proactive workspace accessibility, and flexible medical documentation. We also made it very clear that we were deeply disappointed by the university’s lack of urgency on this article. They returned with a package proposal that included interim measures and made several statements in the table talk that will strengthen our position in forthcoming negotiations.

Solidarity Message from UAW President Ray Curry and UAW Region 8 Director Mitchell Smith
In advance of next week’s Strike Authorization Vote, UAW President Ray Curry and UAW Region 8 Director have written a message of support. You can read it below or on Twitter here!

“Our members in the University of California system organized their union to win job protections, stop persistent bullying, harassment and discrimination from university supervisors, as well as address the crushing burden of housing expenses,” says UAW President Ray Curry. “This vote sends a strong message to UC that UAW members are ready to fight because they deserve dignity, respect and a fair contract. I know our over one million active and retired members agree.”

“The University of California is a premier public university system, but there is nothing exceptional about how they have chosen to behave,” adds Region 8 Director Mitchell Smith. “They chose to break the law and frustrate the bargaining process instead of respecting the rights of their thousands of academic workers.”

By taking this strike authorization vote, academic workers at UC are saying they are ready to join the powerful history of UAW members fighting and striking on behalf of America’s working class. Whether that be at John Deere in 2021 or the sit-down strikes in the 1930s, UAW has a proud history of exercising direct action to win justice at work.

In solidarity,

UAW 5810 Academic Researcher Bargaining Team
UAW 2865 Academic Student Employee Bargaining Team
UAW 5810 Postdoc Bargaining Team
SRU-UAW Student Researcher Bargaining Team