After more than two years of working without a contract, the University Technical and Professional Employees-Communications Workers of America 9119 union and the UC system reached a tentative five-year contract agreement Tuesday, which, if approved, could affect more than 13,000 UC employees.
UPTE-CWA 9119 is the approved union representing health care, research and technical professionals who work in the UC system. According to Dan Russell — the president of UPTE Local 1, the arm of the union that represents UC Berkeley — the new contract has several new components, including daily overtime and double-time benefits in accordance with state law and more opportunities that reward career development. The contract also includes retirement benefits for new employees until April 2021, which Russell said was a priority for the union and said he thinks will help the UC recruit and retain employees.
“I think negotiations were ultimately successful thanks to the efforts of our members,” Russell said in an email. “I think the contract is a victory for our members and for the future of UC. It will allow us to continue working to provide the best healthcare, research, and education to the UC community and the people of California.”
The last approved contract, which was negotiated in 2013, expired Oct. 31, 2017. During the course of mediation of the newest contract, UPTE held several protests, rallies and strikes on various UC campuses.
According to a press release published by the UC Office of the President on Tuesday, the new contract includes health benefits for UPTE-CWA 9119 members at a rate similar to that of other UC employees and a $25 cap on monthly premiums for certain health plans. The contract, if approved by union members, will be in effect until fall 2024.
Members of the union have until Aug. 8 to vote on the contract, which requires a simple majority of the vote to pass, according to Russell. He said he expects the contract to pass.
“We are very pleased to have reached these agreements with UPTE, giving our employees the competitive pay and excellent benefits they so deserve,” said Peter Chester, the university’s executive director of labor relations, in a press release. “These employees make significant contributions to UC’s mission and we deeply appreciate their hard work and dedication.”