Response to UC Administration Emails Regarding GSR Unionization

Dear UC Student-Worker Union Member,

We recently wrote to you when Governor Brown signed SB 201 into law. This historic piece of legislation extends the definition of employee to graduate student researchers (GSRs), which enables GSRs/RAs to form a union and collectively bargain for their rights. Many of you have rightly expressed concern about recent email communications from UC administrators following SB 201’s passage, which seem intended to have a chilling effect on student-workers being able to freely exercise our right to discuss unionization and workplace issues without employer interference. Our union is in contact with our legal counsel to discuss whether UC’s emails constitute an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) under California labor law.

While we are disappointed by UC’s email communications, we are not surprised: The UC administration has fought against GSR/RA collective bargaining rights for 35 years, and the UC formally opposed SB 201 during this legislative session.

What the UC administration didn’t mention in their communications is that through collective bargaining, TAs, tutors, and readers have negotiated significant improvements to our working conditions since we formed our union in 2000. During our last round of contract negotiations in 2014, our union won a 17% wage increase over 4 years; a 50% increase in the childcare subsidy for working parents; workload protections and remedies for over-work; zero-premium health insurance; protections against harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, religion, and more; appointment security; a committee regarding instructional opportunities for non-DACA undocumented students; and the right to access gender-neutral restrooms. The UC was not willing to simply give us these rights – we were only able to win these significant gains by exercising the collective strength and power of our member-driven, member-run union.

Without a union to enforce the victories of contract negotiations, none of these rights and benefits are guaranteed, and binding protections against harassment and discrimination do not exist. That’s why GSRs/RAs at the University of WashingtonUniversity of ConnecticutNew York University, and several other colleges and universities have joined together with other student-workers to form unions and strengthen their collective voice.

This is a big year for our union. We’re fighting back against the Trump administration’s regressive policies; negotiating a new contract for TAs, readers, and tutors; building our membership to strengthen our power as a union; and continuing conversations with our colleagues who work as GSRs about the rights and protections student-workers have won through unionization. We will need your help to be stronger than ever as a union. Please email us to get involved in these efforts!

In Solidarity,

The Joint Council of the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865

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SUCCESS! SB 201 signed into law!

After a dynamic, multi-year struggle led by student-workers, UC Research Assistants won the legal right to join our union and collectively determine their working conditions!   Just before midnight on Sunday, October 15, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 201 into law. This bill, authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), extends collective bargaining rights to Research Assistants (RAs) in California public higher education systems, establishing parity with thousands of RAs and Teaching Assistants across the country who already enjoy this right.  Please  contact us if you are interested in becoming involved in our campaign to bring UC Research Assistants into our Local.

Congratulations and thank you to all of the student-workers who lobbied in Sacramento, signed petitions, filled out surveys, and organized to get this bill passed. Many thanks also to our sister locals, UAW 5810 (UC Postdocs) and UAW 4123 (CSU Student-Workers), who collaborated in this effort, as well as to our bill’s sponsor, Senator Nancy Skinner. As a graduate student, Senator Skinner was one of the activists responsible for the creation of UAW 2865 in the first place!

The passage of this bill is a turning point in a long journey. The UC has fought against RA collective bargaining rights for 35 years. Five years ago, Governor Brown vetoed similar legislation, caving to the UC administration’s fierce opposition to labor rights. This time, however, Governor Brown did the right thing, affirming that Research Assistants are employees who deserve the same protections against overwork, discrimination, harassment, etc., as every other employee.

While this phase of the campaign is over, the fight is just beginning. Now the real work of organizing our colleagues who work as Research Assistants/GSRs begins. If you would like to get involved, or you know RAs/GSRs on your campus who would be interested in our campaign, please contact us. Please also be in touch if you receive communication from the UC administration or your supervisors about this legislation.


The UAW 2865 RA Committee

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UC Opposes SB 201 (Skinner)

UC Opposes SB 201 (Skinner)

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UAW 2865 Statement in Solidarity with DACA Recipients and All Undocumented Peoples

September 25, 2017

On Tuesday September 5th Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On behalf of the Trump administration, Sessions evoked white supremacist rhetoric and legal falsehoods that both further demonized the undocumented and immigrant communities and put at risk nearly 800,000 DACA recipients and their families.

UAW 2865 condemns this executive action as an attack on students, workers, and a further escalation of state violence against all 11 million undocumented peoples in the U.S. The Trump administration’s actions are indicative of continual anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies as indicated by their call for a border wall, the previous executive orders “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement,” “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and the “Muslim Ban,” and finally the continual expansion of Obama-era deportations.

As a union that represents 16,000 student-workers across the UC system, including many DACA recipients, we applaud the UC Office of the President’s (UCOP) recent statement in support of DACA students and their  federal legal suit. However we call upon UCOP and the UC administration to expand their support for all undocumented peoples at the federal, state, and campus levels. We specifically demand the following:

  • UC Call on Congress to pass legislation which restores and expands DACA, decriminalizes all undocumented peoples, and immediately suspends ICE detention and deportations.
  • UC Call on California Governor Jerry Brown to pass a strong version of SB54 (The California Values Act) making California a sanctuary state.
  • Guarantee that UC will honor all TA, Tutor, Reader, GSR, GSI, and all other work-appointments and funding packages to DACA and non-DACA recipients regardless of work permit renewal status.
  • UC Expand and immediately implement across all campuses, pedagogical and funding opportunities as proposed by UAW 2865’s Instructional Opportunities Committee.
  • Each UC campus provide matching dollars for the UCOP funded scholarships for all undocumented students and increase the staff of each campus’ undocumented student services office by also including graduate student support.
  • UC create a fund to cover the costs of all renewal applications of all DACA recipients affiliated with UC.
  • Ensure that the UCOP advisory committee on undocumented students is led by undocumented UC students and workers themselves.
  • Implement any and all demands of the UC Undocumented Student Coalition.
  • Immediately terminate all UC contracts and formal cooperation with ICE, DHS, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
  • UC demilitarizing the police and ensure campus police does not collaborate with ICE to release any personal information.
  • UC Allocate physical spaces on campus with professional staff based on undocumented student recommendations (on-campus attorney, mental health professionals, academic and financial counselors).
  • UC Develop employment and paid internship opportunities for professional development regardless of immigration status and work authorization (re: UC Davis’ Mentorship).

As both students and front-line instructors across UC’s nine teaching campuses, UAW 2865 wants all undocumented members of the UC community and beyond to know that we stand in solidarity with you as fellow workers, instructors, colleagues, and family. We are steadfastly ready to support and collaborate with on the ground work led by undocumented students and communities in the struggle for immigrant and worker rights and justice.

In Solidarity,

Joint Council
UAW Local 2865

Downloadable PDF: DACA Support Letter 2865

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Resolution of UAW 2865 in Support of SB-562 (Lara/Atkins) The Healthy California Act

Resolution of UAW 2865 in Support of SB-562 (Lara/Atkins) The Healthy California Act

Whereas, ​universal, reliable, comprehensive health care is necessary for a healthy, productive population; and,

Whereas, ​individuals who are unable to access the health care they need for themselves or their family members may, as a result, face challenges maintaining employment, contributing to the economy, learning in school, or living a full and dignified life; and,

Whereas, ​California’s present health care system creates insecurity for everyone, even those with healthinsurance, who suffer unpredictable coverage, cancellations, little choice of providers, decreased benefits, and increased premiums, co-pays, and deductibles; and

Whereas, ​rising healthcare costs, and cost shifting from insurance companies to patients are creating serious economic problems for employers and employees by undermining wages and pensions, pricing individual insurance purchasers out of the market, escalating the number of uninsured and underinsured, and placing a significant strain on funding for public institutions; and,

Whereas, ​a universal, single-payer health insurance system, with consolidated financing and an accountable public structure, has been predicted in numerous American studies, and demonstrated in other countries, to result in greater efficiency, lower costs to businesses, individuals, and government; and,

Whereas, ​previous efforts to reform our healthcare system, notably the Affordable Care Act, which brought many improvements, did not result in a universal, comprehensive and affordable health care system, and even these efforts are under attack; and,

Whereas, ​as the federal government is moving more responsibility for health care to the states, it is imperative that California protect its residents by establishing a truly universal comprehensive system, which controls costs, and for which eligibility is based on residency, rather than employment or income; and,

Whereas, ​SB 562 is efficient, eliminating waste by consolidating the functions of many insurance companies into one comprehensive public plan, thus saving consumers and the state billions annually;

Now, therefore be it resolved​ that UAW 2865 supports universal access to healthcare for all Californians through SB 562 (Lara/Atkins), and organizes to support passage of this bill.

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UC’s Hidden $175 Million Surplus and the Continuing Fight for Real Public Education

We are partnering with our sister union AFSCME 3299 (comprised of UC service workers) first to share some disturbing news about the recent scandal exposed by a California state audit which revealed that the UC Office of the President (UCOP) concealed $175 million in a hidden slush fund while simultaneously raising tuition and slashing budgets, and second to invite you to the upcoming Regents Meeting on Wednesday, May 17th to protest for more funding for public education and workers. For more details on attending this meeting, scroll to the bottom of this email.

In late April, California State Auditor Elaine Howle discovered that the University of California Office of the President, led by Janet Napolitano, hid a budget surplus of $175 million in a slush fund. Furthermore, the audit revealed that Napolitano and UCOP brazenly interfered with the audit by facilitating changes to and in some cases censoring campus surveys when they did not reflect favorably on her office. This news has outraged many across the state, many of whom are now calling for Napolitano’s resignation, particularly as the UC system, citing budget shortfalls, recently raised student tuition and has been cutting back on education funding and worker pay all while dramatically increasing executive pay. While we support public demands calling for Napolitano’s removal, we also recognize that these issues of deprioritizing students and workers through privatization schemes are systemic and extend significantly beyond this one individual. For those who have been following UC’s privatization schemes, this news extends a familiar pattern within our university. It’s time to say no more!

This most recent development has even led member of the UC Board of Regents (the governing body that voted on the tuition increase) Gavin Newsom to call for a tuition rollback, a call CA state assembly members have since joined. Importantly, this call moves us toward our union’s demand for fully subsidized public education, which we outlined in our J20 demands. As such, we support the reversal of the previous tuition hike as a strategic step toward achieving free public education. We further support workers’ demands to redistribute this funding toward living wages for all campus workers and affordable housing for students and workers, and we echo the calls for the university to demonstrate responsibility through restructuring the administration to create more transparent accountability, including but not limited to removing Napolitano from office.

Education is a public good and a human right. While we continue to condemn UCOP for its mismanagement of the UC budget and use of tuition dollars to increase administrative positions with salaries of $300,000+, let it be clear that we also condemn efforts by state legislators and the Governor of California to off-load their responsibility to fund public education on UCOP alone. To be sure, UCOP and other high-level university administrators must be democratized with student and worker-led leadership. However, in a state where prison spending ranks 48 places above education spending in the state budget, public funds must be increased through progressive tax policies that do not exempt the wealthiest Californians from funding public education and other social services. The Reclaim Coalition’s research finds that it would only take an average of $48 per CA taxpayer per year to fund a quality public education system.

With that in mind, we must continue the fight for real public education! Here are two ways you can support these efforts in light of this most recent budget scandal:

  1. Sign the petition
  2. Join us and fellow AFSCME 3299 workers at the UC Board of Regents’ Meeting on May 17 at the UCSF Mission Bay campus starting at 8am. You can hitch a ride with our sister union AFSCME 3299. Rides from most campuses will depart on May 16 and return on May 17, and AFSCME will be in touch with campus-specific ride information shortly. To reserve a seat with AFSCME, sign up through this link by May 15 at 12pm.

We hope to see you at the Regents Meeting and on all mobilizing fronts as we continue to demand accountability and a more democratic, transparent, accessible, and inclusive UC!

In Pro-Public Education Solidarity Forever,

The Joint Council of UAW 2865

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