Academic Researcher Bargaining Frequently Asked Questions

In the coming months, we will negotiate a new contract with UC management to determine our working conditions, including all rights and benefits. To win at the bargaining table, we need the participation of all of our members and providing information about the process is an important first step. For answers to frequently asked questions about the bargaining process and initial bargaining demands, please read on!


What is a Union Contract?

A union contract defines all terms and conditions of employment. You can find the current Academic Researcher contract here. You can also find how the current union contract improved the AR experience in this side-by-side, which outlines how a union contract improved conditions.

What is Collective Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a process, recognized and protected by state law, that equalizes the power relationship between employees and their employer. Under collective bargaining, Postdocs and Academic Researchers elect representatives from amongst their peers to negotiate as equals with the UC administration. The result of negotiations is a contract that determines terms and conditions of employment.

Through collective bargaining, academic worker unions have successfully negotiated improvements in wages, benefits, job security, leaves, and many other terms and conditions of employment.

Our bargaining team will meet with UC representatives over the next few months to negotiate the terms of a contract. Throughout the process, the bargaining team will provide frequent and regular updates on the state of negotiations via email, social media and campus meetings. Once the UAW 5810 and UC bargaining teams have reached tentative agreement on a proposed contract, all Academic Researchers will then be asked to vote on whether or not to approve the tentative agreement. If approved by a majority of Academic Researchers, the tentative agreement becomes a legally-binding contract.

I don’t have any issues — why should I care about this?

Many of the rights and benefits you enjoy today have come from activism and organizing of previous generations of Academic Researchers just like you. Your decision to become involved and support the contract campaign ensures we can continue to build a stronger UC and do better research. The most basic way to support is by being a union member. If you’re not a member yet, please sign up here.

How can I get more involved?

Everyone is welcome & strongly encouraged to participate in every stage of our contract campaign. There are many ways to get involved:

Become a member: If you aren’t already, be sure to sign up as a member of your union! There is strength in numbers. Membership builds our collective power to win more rights and benefits. Sign up using this online form.

Encourage others in your department to get involved: Help contact others in your lab, department, or other social networks about bargaining! The more members doing this work, the stronger we can make our campaign as a whole. Email to get connected with organizers in your area. 

Attend & participate in your campus membership meetings: To find out about your campus meetings, check out our calendar

Attend & participate in bargaining sessions: All members are encouraged to attend bargaining sessions! When bargaining begins, more information will be shared about when sessions are and how you can join.

Why is it important to participate?

Participation is critical because the university pays close attention to our participation rates — in the bargaining survey, in the initial demands ratification, and throughout the campaign — to gauge our strength. When a strong majority of Academic Researchers are involved, the university knows union members are willing to protect and enforce the rights and benefits guaranteed under the contract — leading to even bigger wins. However, low overall participation will lead to the university not taking us seriously at the bargaining table and even risking past gains. The stakes are high, but we know we can win when members are unified and active!

How can we address other issues that do not require modification of the collective bargaining agreement?

Our contract is an important tool for improving our campus and community, but it is not our only tool. When we come together in big numbers, we’ve shown that we can also make big wins through direct action, local and state politics, legal action, and more.