The 2014 Contract Negotiations – A Major Victory

In 2014, after nearly a week of bargaining late into the night as a third system-wide strike loomed, the then-13,000 workers of the UC Student-Worker Union UAW 2865 reached a labor agreement with UC management.

The agreement concludes a year of intense negotiations which traversed a deteriorating union management relationship involving two system-wide strikes and two barely averted strikes. The agreement for labor peace included class size provisions new to the UCs, rights for undocumented students, and guarantees for gender-neutral bathrooms—all of which set precedent for the labor movement nationwide.  The UC Student-Worker Union, which represents front line educators across the UC system, voted to ratify this agreement.

Precedent Setting Agreement

This agreement formed new terrain for student-workers and the labor movement nationwide.  One unprecedented agreement created a joint labor-management program to ensure equal academic and professional development experiences for non-DACA qualified undocumented graduate students as compared to their documented peers. A second established labor-management committees to protect a newly agreed upon right to gender-neutral bathrooms, a right that is grievable in the new contract.  Finally, the UC and UAW agreed to labor-management committees designed to be able to track the ways teacher-student ratios are effecting the quality of UC education.

The contract includes significant progress for student-parents as well. This includes expanding leaves from 4 paid weeks to 6 for birth parents (4 paid and 2 unpaid for non-birth parents), which makes possible a full three month benefitted maternity leave on quarter campuses. Under previous agreements, many women felt pressured to take quarters off with no pay or benefits. Student-parents also now have childcare subsidies increased 50%, from $600/quarter ($900/semester) to $900/quarter ($1350/semester). Finally, access to lactation stations is guaranteed at all campuses.

The UAW’s contract campaign aimed to close a nearly 20% wage gap between the UCs and competitor institutions, which was identified by the Academic Senate as pushing qualified graduate students away from the UCs (see UAW report: tinyurl.com/towardsmediocrity) The 4 year agreement includes 16% (5,4,4 3) raises that compounds to 17%; after tracking changes in UC competitor wages over the life of the contract, these increased will likely close over one-third of the competitiveness gap identified by the Academic Senate.

Highlights from the 2014-2018 Contract

Issue Past Contract/


Current Agreement
Class Size/ Workload Intensity Bargained for in past contracts without concrete gains Campus Committees for voice in workload intensity and other issues of concern to ASEs
Undocumented Student Support Not bargained for Program to ensure access to professional options for undocumented students that are equivalent to those available to all Graduate Students
Wages Last contract won 2%/yr. In the past year other unions got between 3-4%/yr 5,4,4,3% over 4 years with no retroactivity, which totals that compounds to 17%, averages 3.4%/ year, and closes ⅓ of competitiveness gap
Non-Discrimination – Lactation Stations Not bargained for Grievable Access to lactation stations
Non-Discrimination – Gender Neutral Bathrooms Not bargained for Grievable Access to gender neutral bathrooms
Childcare Subsidy $600/qtr ($900/sem) to age 6 $900/qtr ($1350/sem) to age 12
Leaves 4wks birth parents, 2 wks non birth parents 6 wks paid leave for birth parents w/full benefits extension possible on quarter campuses; 4 wks paid, 2 weeks unpaid for non-birth parents; non-retaliation agreement.

Our current contract: The contract defines the benefits and boundaries of our work. This is a legal document, so if something goes wrong in your working situation, you are entitled to have that situation remedied. You do this through the grievance procedure, which you can discuss with a union officer.

Rights and protections in the contract include:

Appointment Notification and Appointment Security. When you are hired you should be issued an appointment notification letter, which states the dates you are expected to work, how many hours, and what your pay and benefits are. If you accept an appointment, that job is then guaranteed. If your section is canceled after you’re hired, the university either has to reassign you to another section or pay you anyway. You are also entitled to supplemental documentation that details what course you will be assigned to, and what your specific duties will be. This should be in the form of a checklist, filled out by your supervisor. A checklist for new employees is available here.

Workload. You are entitled to be paid for all duties related to your appointment, including reading course material, attending lecture, preparing for discussion, answering student e-mail, etc. It also means you can’t be required to work more than the hours you are paid for. For a GSI/TA working at 50%, this means that you cannot be asked to work more than 220 hours during the quarter or . This should average 20 hours a week. You cannot be asked to work more than 40 hours in any week, or more than 8 hours in one day (this includes during exam time). The number of hours worked in excess of twenty (20) hours per week may not total more than 50 hours per quarter. If your duties ever exceed these amounts, your supervisor should reassign work to make the load manageable, or if that is impossible, your appointment percentage can be increased to reflect your actual working time. You can contact the union for help devising an individual or group solution to avoid overwork. You can use this helpful grid to track your hours.

Childcare Subsidy Any ASE working at least 25% time who has children age 12 or under by July 1st is entitled to a $900 per quarter/$1300 per semester childcare cost reimbursement. ASEs with summer appointments are also eligible for a $900 subsidy. More about the subsidy and the form necessary to request it are here.

Full Remission of In-State Education and Registration Fees and Healthcare Premiums. Whenever students work at least 10 hours a week as a GSI/TA, Reader or Tutor (a 25% appointment or higher), the university pays 100% of our in-state tuition and registration fees, in addition to our healthcare premiums.

Health Insurance. ASEs are eligible to participate in the UC Student Health Insurance Program (UCSHIP). A grad student ASE with at least 25% employment is eligible for 100% premium remission.

Medical, Family and other kinds of Leave. In addition to 2 paid sick days per quarter or 3 paid sick days per semester, salaried ASEs appointed at 50% time are entitled to 2 days per quarter or 3 days per semester of paid short-term family-related leave which can be used for illness, disability or family emergency. Salaried ASEs are also eligible for 3 days paid bereavement leave. Salaried ASEs are also eligible for paid long-term leave up to 6 weeks; Up to six weeks of paid leave can be used for childbearing or up to four weeks for serious illness of an ASE (or an ASE’s family member), or to care for and bond with an ASE’s newborn or newly adopted child.

Protections against Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Our contract protects against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, ancestry, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, medical condition, HIV status, status as a veteran, age, citizenship, political affiliation, union activity and membership or non-membership in the union.

If you are worried that your rights are being violated, please contact a union officer on your campus now. Resolving your grievance can often be done informally, and contacting the union about your problem doesn’t commit you to any formal course of action. And if your supervisor wants to question you or you’re worried you might be disciplined, you have a right to union representation.

Read more about the historic contract negotiations:

San Diego Free Press

Contract Victory

Press Release

Labor Notes

What did we win in previous negotiations?


Article 4: Childcare

  • Child care subsidy doubled and coveraged extended to the summer.

Article 6: Defined Contribution Plan

  • UC retirement plan included alongside eligibility for other defined contribution plans.

Article 11: Fee Remission

  • -Language change to incorporate UC renaming Registration Fees “Universitywide Student Service Fees”
  • Partial remission of non-resident and professional fees.

Article 14: Health Benefits

  • Language updated to recognize change from GSHIP to UCSHIP
  • Student requirements pertaining to UCSHIP shall not be conditions of employment.
  • UAW will meet with UC to discuss changes to UCSHIP, and UC will pay one ASE per campus to attend systemwide meetings.

Article 29: Wages

  • Annual 2% wage increases