Protect Research Assistant Rights and Stop Threats By UC Executives

Dear colleagues:

We are very excited that Governor Brown is considering whether to sign Senate Bill 259 that would protect the rights of Research Assistants at UC and allow us to choose to unionize.

Please take a moment to join thousands of us who have signed the following letter to UC President Yudof asking him to stop spreading misinformation about SB 259 and respect the rights of Research Assistants:

You can get more details on SB 259 by checking out the fact sheet from the office of State Senator Loni Hancock here:

Please also feel free to forward this email to colleagues and friends through department and organizational lists.

Unfortunately, top executives at UC Office of the President and some Graduate Deans have recently sent inaccurate emails that threaten retaliation against RAs with loss of pay, jobs, and hours if we choose to form a union.  Our university community deserves and expects information from university executives that meets the highest standards of academic integrity, not false claims that are contradicted by substantial publicly available evidence.  Further, the threats made towards RAs would be unlawful if SB 259 went into effect because the bill extends the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act to protect the rights of RAs – not just the right to choose unionization, but the right to work in an environment free of unlawful management intimidation and coercion.

Research Assistants are the last remaining group of UC employees who work in laboratories that do not have the right to choose collective bargaining.  Teaching Assistants, Postdocs, administrative staff, and even faculty all have the right to form a union.  We believe that it is fundamentally unfair for UC Office of the President to try to deny this right to choose for the roughly 14,000 employees who work as research assistants.

Any costs to UC from SB 259 and Research Assistants choosing to organize are purely speculative.  Research Assistants would negotiate wages and benefits with management, and we do not expect either group would agree to increases that UC could not afford.  Whatever the costs, at least 85% of them will be covered by increases in private and federal research funding for UC,[1] including any minimal new costs involved in negotiating and adhering to a union contract.[2]  In fact, Postdoctoral Researcher positions have increased at UC as Postdocs have negotiated for wage and benefit improvements because they are supported by the same increasing sources of funding.

We are excited to take the next steps of improving our rights and building a union as research assistants.  Please join us by signing the petition to President Yudof asking that he respect our rights:


Jessica Smith, Graduate Student Researcher, Chemistry – UC Berkeley
Nick Perrone, Graduate Student Researcher, History – UC Davis
Jordan Brocious, Graduate Student Researcher, Physics – UC Irvine
Alexandra Holstrom-Smith, Graduate Student Researcher, Sociology – UCLA
Kristynn Sullivan, Graduate Student Researcher, Psychological Sciences – UC Merced
Guanyang Zhang, Graduate Student Researcher, Entomology – UC Riverside
Aaron Cotkin, Graduate Student Researcher, Political Science – UC San Diego
Kate Darling, Graduate Student Researcher, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences – UC San Francisco
Marko Budisic, Graduate Student Researcher, Mechanical Engineering – UC Santa Barbara
Veronica Yovovich, Graduate Student Researcher, Environmental Studies – UC Santa Cruz

[1] See
[2] See OMB Circular A-21, Section J27,,, and