Bargaining Update #5

“I rely heavily on debt to get through graduate school as a parent. I really feel that UC is not offering accessible education to parents.”

Bargaining Update #5, September 11 & 12 UC Merced


Hiya folks, this was our fifth bargaining session. We have been switching campuses to allow for the most member involvement and this time several people from Merced came to bargaining to present their testimonies around the childcare and undocumented worker proposals in bargaining. This process of “open bargaining” will continue, so please join us when we come to your campus and help move this forward.

In this latest round of bargaining we discussed numerous issues – from Research Assistant rights to unionize, parking and transportation, rights for undocumented students, and childcare and family friendly policies. The most common factor in these discussion was the severe lack of information that UC Management has provided despite our numerous formal written requests and our legal right to this information. The University is touted as a place where information is shared to the benefit of all, but management continues withhold key information necessary for informed proposals.

We want management to bargain in good faith, and this means sharing data so that we can fully engage them at the bargaining table. Please sign the petition to demand that management give us the information that we are legally entitled to here.

Family Friendly UC
“I made $1500 a month. I was paying $1100 a month for childcare. And the childcare subsidy itself is only $900 a semester. So this takes so much out of my wages.” 1500-1100+300=700/month income

Student parents told their stories of the hardships faced in the university. The exorbitant cost of childcare weighs heavy on our budgets, especially given low salaries. Student parents go to great lengths to get through their programs. They use a variety of strategies. Many take out loans. Others make use of state subsidized childcare vouchers. And still others bring their children to work with them, when possible and appropriate.

This is more than just an economic issue, as the bargaining team pointed out by handing management this article by UC Berkeley Law Professor and former Grad Division Dean Mary Ann Mason on the implications of family friendly policies for gender equity in academia.

Bargaining Team member Jessica from Irvine summed it up well, “It is terrifying to see women disappear from your department, your workplace. This burden falls heavily on women. The policy is about gender equity and my own experience in the school of humanities and other students’ experience in labs testify to this disturbing effect on women in the Academy.”

Research Assistant Rights
“We are not going to be able to rectify that at the bargaining table.” -Nadine Fischel, chief negotiator for management

One again UC Management showed their disdain for our basic human rights (see UN declaration of human rights) when they refused to recognize the rights of Research Assistants to choose to collectively bargain. It is apparent that the university will not do what is right without a well organized campaign to pressure them. They said that we won’t solve this problem at the bargaining table, so help us bring the fight for our rights to our campuses!

Undocumented student rights

Undocumented students testified to the difficulty of being a graduate student. One student’s testimonial stated that he wanted to work on a research project, at first his advisor said he could participate in the project, but wouldn’t be able to get paid for his work, and then later was told that he wouldn’t be able to participate at all. He said that he had similar experiences trying to get TAships.

Another student expressed that, “undocumented students work just as hard as every other student, and as an institution of higher learning, exempting undocumented students from equal opportunities is unreasonable. Undocumented students are here to stay and will only continue to excel should they be given the privileges other students have.”

UC Management has expressed a desire to help undocumented students navigate graduate school. However, they have failed join our call to help us lead on this issue.

Increased Appointment Security

Many graduate students live with the stress and uncertainty of not knowing where their funding is coming from on a quarter-to-quarter basis. This affects our ability to plan our lives, complete our research, and is an additional unfair emotional burden for us to bear. In response to this reality, we brought a proposal designed to move management towards year long-appointments. From the “Graduate Groups” at UC Davis to any student in a department that doesn’t guarantee funding for the entirety of their program, we know this is a huge problem with a simple solution. On the one hand, management did express an “understanding” of the negative consequences of their contingent labor model. On the other hand, they offered to accept our proposal on the condition that we remove protections that prevent management from cancelling appointments at will, thus defeating the entire purpose of our job security proposal.

While we are displeased with management’s response to our efforts to improve the lives of graduate students, we are confident that with increased member participation in the bargaining process we can demonstrate that management must be prepared to offer real change if the UC is to continue to function as a world class, public university.

Please follow our bargaining process on twitter: @uaw2865

We encourage your comments, participation, and questions. Please join us for our next sessions coming to your campus soon and ask your campus bargaining team members how to become more involved.

In solidarity,
Your UAW Bargaining Team