Graduate student employees represented by the UC Student-Workers Union, or UAW Local 2865, delivered a letter to the office of Chancellor Carol Christ on Wednesday that outlines the union’s demands regarding the upcoming implementation of UCPath at UC Berkeley set for March 1.
UCPath, a new systemwide payroll program, has already been implemented at four of the 10 UC campuses — including UC Riverside, UC Merced, UC Santa Barbara and UC Los Angeles. At all of these campuses, hundreds of graduate and undergraduate student workers have reported miscalculated or missed paychecks after UCPath’s implementation.
“A missed paycheck means that I don’t have any money, and I have a lot of bills,” said Alex Bush, UAW Local 2865 financial secretary and campus graduate student. “If I would miss a paycheck, I would be in a situation where I would have to ask friends and family for support.”
The letter states that the rollout of the UCPath system at other UC campuses has caused “enormous hardship” for academic student employees, or ASEs. According to the letter, UCPath malfunctions have caused ASEs to go without pay or receive incorrect paychecks. As a result, some ASEs have come up short on rent, experienced food insecurity and been forced to put tuition on credit cards and take out student loans.
UC Office of the President spokesperson Claire Doan said efforts to combat challenges faced by student employees are “ongoing” in an email from December 2018.
“I think the problem is that UCPath as a system could be better than what we have now, overall,” said Layne Frechette, UAW Local 2865 delegate for the Alameda Labor Council and campus graduate student. “The fact that the UC system has shown no interest in other campuses about their graduate students not getting paid on time is what tells us that a contingency plan is needed for those that might experience similar problems.”
The letter demands that UC Berkeley implement measures before March that address the problems with UCPath at other campuses. Among the demands made is a solution for the problems causing missed paychecks and late payments before the new system is brought onto campus.
UAW Local 2865 also asks for the establishment of contingency funds for ASEs that do not get paid on the first of the month or on time. Another demand is that UC Berkeley hire a designated UCPath representative with direct contact to the union.
“The next step is to try to get a meeting with the chancellor. If what we’ve done so far doesn’t bring that out, then we need to do whatever it takes,” Bush said. “It is explicitly the chancellor’s responsibility, on each campus, to make sure that UCPath is successfully implemented.”