State Watch

University of California graduate student workers approve contracts, end weeks-long strike

Stratton Georgoulis, student researcher and strike captain, stands with hundreds of University of California graduate workers and supporters as they carry on a strike to decry the university’s treatment toward students and employees in Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 5, 2022. (Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Graduate student workers at the University of California (UC) have approved contracts that will increase pay and benefits and ended a strike that has been ongoing since last month. 

UC said in a release on Friday that graduate student researchers and academic student workers voted to approve the new contracts this week, concluding a six-week strike. The contracts go into effect immediately and will remain in place until May 31, 2025. 

The university and the union, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), reached a tentative agreement last week to increase pay and benefits for workers. 

“These enhancements reflect the important role that these student employees play and the University’s dedication to support its graduate students as they obtain their master’s and doctoral degrees,” the UC release said. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that two bargaining units of UAW approved the deal in separate votes. One representing 17,000 graduate student researchers approved the deal with 68.4 percent of the vote, while the other representing 19,000 teaching assistants, tutors and other academic student workers approved it with 61.6 percent of the vote. 

The strike had been the country’s largest of academic workers, according to the Times. 

The deal will establish minimum salary scales for student employees. The minimum salary for graduate student researchers for 50-percent time work will be $34,564.50 by Oct. 1, 2024. The minimum nine-month salary for teaching assistants for 50-percent time work will be $34,000 for most of UC’s locations by that date, and $36,500 for the locations in San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 

The university also agreed to proportionally increase rates for associate instructors and teaching fellows to correspond with the raises for teaching assistants. 

The agreement expands paid leave to eight weeks per year for serious health conditions, family care, baby bonding, and pregnancy or childbirth-related needs, and UC agreed to pay 100 percent of dependent child health care premiums for eligible workers. 

UC also agreed to try to negotiate reduced or no fees for workers to access regional transit systems and provide workers with access to a program to pay for transit costs within 12 months of the agreement being ratified. 

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (D) was brought in as a neutral third-party mediator earlier this month to help secure an agreement.

Tags strike University of California

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