UC Student-Workers Union reaches contract agreement with UC Office of the President

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Bowen Xiao/File

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The UC Office of the President, or UCOP, announced Monday that it reached a four-year contract agreement with UC Student-Workers Union, or United Auto Workers Local 2865.

Agreements reached include a 3 percent annual wage increase, a one-time payment of $100 for every eligible employee, an increased childcare subsidy, a partial campus fee waiver and the establishment of a joint labor-management committee on sexual harassment issues and training.

UAW Local 2865 represents the UC’s academic student employees, or ASEs, including readers, tutors, graduate student instructors, teaching assistants and research assistants at the nine teaching campuses of the UC, according to its website. Negotiations began in February at the union’s statewide office in Berkeley.

“We are very pleased that negotiations were completed in a timely manner,” UCOP spokesperson Danielle Smith said in an email. “Because the new contract was finalized relatively quickly, the 3 percent salary increase the UAW secured for its bargaining unit will go into effect October 1st.”

The ratified contract was presented to the union as UCOP’s “last, best, and final” contract offer, according to an email from UAW Local 2865.

According to the union bargaining team lead Alli Carlisle, a UCLA doctoral candidate in the Spanish and Portuguese department, the bargaining team, in a narrow 8-7-1 vote, put the contract forward to members for ratification Aug. 20. In a UC-wide vote, about 4,500 members voted 58.6 percent to ratify the contract.

Agreements were not reached on several of the UAW Local 2865’s initial bargaining goals, including affordable housing and health care for academic student employees.

“Housing is not a mandatory subject of bargaining. ASEs are covered by UCSHIP – a student health care plan rather than an employee plan – and as such is not an appropriate subject for the bargaining process,” Smith said in an email. “That said, all ASEs who are employed at least 10 hours a week have the cost of their UCSHIP plan waived.”

Smith said in an email that for the past several years, a joint health care committee made up of union and university representatives has been tasked with addressing the needs of ASEs.

Union members are divided over the results of negotiations. Adam Jadhav, a campus doctoral candidate in geography, and Shannon Ikebe, a campus doctoral candidate in sociology — both active rank and file union members — expressed concern that a 3 percent wage gain does not keep up with the rising cost of living.

Members of the bargaining team opposed to accepting the UCOP’s offer issued a strong dissent.

“Rather than accept this proposal, we should escalate this Fall and build towards a strike. During our last round of negotiations, our union’s strike activity doubled management’s supposed final wage offer,” the dissent stated. “Withholding our labor is the single best way that our union can win the important demands our members need: the UC works because we do.”

Olivia Nouriani is the lead schools and communities reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivianouriani.