Welcome Back: Bargaining Update

Welcome Back Bargaining Update: Our Contract Expires Today

Hello student-workers! Welcome back to school if you have been away. As you may know your student-workers union has been in negotiations for a new contract this summer, and now that school is back in session we will continue bargaining and need your participation! In this email, please see an update on bargaining thus far and some ways you can get involved.


In past bargaining we won full fee remission (it had been ~66%), higher wages, health care, childcare reimbursement and more. This time we are looking at our role as the primary teachers in the UC system and fighting to keep classes manageable, as well as fighting to ensure that we receive wages and benefits that support quality education. For a full list see our website.

As the front line educators and researchers we care about both quality of education and access to education. As pivotal players between undergraduate education, research and graduate education, our negotiations affect the core of the UC mission.

Quality Demands – We are negotiating about Class Size, Online Education, ASE compensation and fee remissions, parking, October pay, Job Security, Research Assistant bargaining rights

Access Demands – We are negotiating about increasing Non-Discrimination coverage, Undocumented Worker Rights, and bettering the positions of underrepresented students both graduate and undergraduate

Student-Family Demands – We are negotiating for Affordable Housing, Better Childcare Support, Quality Healthcare, and More Access to Leaves

We will have upcoming bargaining sessions at San Diego, Riverside, Santa Cruz, and Davis. Please send your testimonials and comments you would like to share in bargaining to your campus leaders! And then come speak them!


We are modeling our campaign after several recent student-worker union successes in which we brought pressure from the streets and our allies together into the bargaining room and the legislature. This worked to eliminate the health care caps, to win a tuition freeze and to build the movement behind taxing the wealthy that became Prop 30. The trick here is to bring similar force to bear on bargaining.

During the summer, many of our members were off doing fieldwork, on vacation or working a second job. Even so, we had folks come to summer sessions to give testimonies regarding Research Assistant rights to unionize, Undocumented Grad Students difficulties with funding, Student-Family Childcare Needs, Parking & Housing costs as well as the declining quality of education. In very concrete terms this means that the following issues have been discussed in bargaining, some with concrete proposals(*), others as initial explorations: Childcare*, Hiring/Posting*, Parking Fees*, Retirement*, Research Assistant Rights*, Grievances*, Summer Session Rights*, Class Size, Non-Discrimination Article, Undocumented Worker Support. Clearly, a host of proposals have been passed, but again, the number of proposals means nothing if management is not feeling the pressure to change their position.

We have repeatedly requested information that would guide negotiations on wages, online education, class size, and non-discrimination language and are currently filing charges with the state labor board to force the UCs to comply with their mandate to share information. We experimented with a childcare proposal that lacked data and thus asked for full remission for all dependents. But, if, as we expect, management claims childcare is expensive to cover, we will need – and are legally entitled to – actual data to examine their claims.

Now that the school year has begun – we have begun offering packages of proposals to try and settle some of the less controversial elements. This means making one-time collections of proposals and offering them to management as a whole with a specific timeline. As of yet, there has been no sign of movement in response to our initial packages. Again, the key here is not perfect language, or brilliance in the room, but the ways our voices resonate throughout the campus community and gain traction elsewhere. It is important to remember that management’s bargaining team has their movements predetermined by higher ups and the only way to build an exceptional contract is to move the folks outside the room.


The challenge – it is easy to assume that in a university setting where reason is the prime virtue, bargaining ought to be settled simply on the grounds of well-argued or cited facts. These are certainly important. However, the most articulate and convincing argument that has no power behind it dies at a bargaining table. So how do we develop that power as a union?

1) We are putting pressure on management in a multiple and varied manner and connecting this power to specific proposals at the bargaining table.
This means engaging allies among the faculty, legislators and undergrads. For instance, the department chairs at Berkeley and San Diego signed a letter suggesting that low wages for grads decrease quality of education for all. (Can you make this happen on your your campus?) Also, several legislators have called and written the UC management demanding good faith bargaining – some focused on student-family issues, others on the lack of data the university is sharing with the union.

There are petitions to share and sign:
Here is the petition for gender neutral bathrooms
The petition for supporting student parents
The petition to demand that management give us the information that we are legally entitled to

2) We are doing open bargaining: This means that members and allies can come and participate. When 45 people marched into bargaining last week at Berkeley, it helped lots. You are invited. Let us know when you can come and we can get you plugged into the campaign elements that concern you most.

3) We are bargaining with real information – or trying: In spite of multiple and flexible requests, UC management has repeatedly refused to share data basic to the bargaining process. For instance, how much does the childcare fund currently cost the UCs? In response, we have filed charges with the state labor board (PERB) requesting useful data. We can always ask for the perfect world, but without cost and use data, a reasonable settlement is difficult, if not impossible, to determine.

4) The timeline: Without the information collected and analyzed, we have no way of knowing what all these items truly cost the university. This is why our bargaining team has decided to work economic issues carefully into view with sufficient data and support behind them. Thus, the current compensation conversation involves Housing, Parking, and Child Care fees as well as very specific requests for wage data. Our position is that we need a compensation package that makes up for the past years wage loss due to not keeping up with inflation, while also bringing us up to par with our competitor schools compensation packages. We support the Academic Senate figures (see below).

As all of us are aware that solid wage gains ought to be central to this agreement, we are hoping to find serious leverage for our wage offers. Luckily, the November Regents meeting is scheduled to include a report from the Academic Senate that is very clear in advocating for a massive increase in grad student support–The Academic Senate says our support averaged $2,697 below our competitor schools. This should be helpful. And of course, bargaining over retroactive wage increases are absolutely normal in negotiations that extend into the fall. That said, any potential period of static wages due to the duration of negotiations could be easily offset by long-term gains: even .25% gained over a few months of hard fighting is extraordinarily important when figured into our salaries over 3 years and further.

In all, real negotiations, power and information are inextricably linked: bargaining around proposals requires the information needed to support them and the leverage to move them and we are determined to take this process seriously and carefully.

Today our contract expires – for a detailed Q&A regarding expiration from our previous bargaining updates see this link or scroll to the bottom of this update.


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.

Contact us today – ucswu-uaw-contract-campaign@googlegroups.com

Please follow our bargaining process on twitter.

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. If you can’t come to bargaining feel free to send your testimonials and comments you would like to share in bargaining to your campus leaders!

In solidarity,
Your UAW Bargaining Team


Contract with UC Expires Sept. 30: It’s Not a Problem

The law protects our right to obtain information from UC relevant to fully represent our members and to bargain at a pace appropriate to well-researched, member-supported proposals.

Q. What is the Union’s bargaining team looking to achieve in the current negotiations with UC management to recommend to its members for approval?
A. We aim to make serious progress towards: a livable compensation package, improving the quality of education and research by controlling our workload, benefits for student-families, and stronger anti-discrimination processes. For a full list of our demands please visit http://www.uaw2865.org/

Q. The contract for TAs, GSIs, Tutors, and Readers expires Sept. 30, 2013. If we haven’t concluded negotiations do we have big problems because we won’t have a contract?
A. No. U.S. Labor law, including California’s Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Law (“HEERA”) requires that even though the contract has expired, wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment, including those specified in the contract, must legally continue until bargaining is completed. You will continue to be paid, work the same hours, and receive the same healthcare, etc.

Q. Is it true many subjects where Management can now act without bargaining would, after September 30th, now first have to be negotiated with the Union before implementing new or changed policies?
A. Yes

Q. Are there provisions in the contract that are not considered “terms and conditions of employment” and do expire when the contract expires?
A. Yes, there are some provisions which do terminate with the contract September 30, if the contract is not extended by mutual agreement of the Union and UC management, and are only implemented if included in a new agreement:
Article 19: No Strike
Article 18: Management Rights (to the extent the enumerated right of management to act unilaterally without bargaining with the Union goes beyond what HEERA allows)
Article 30: Waiver (to the extent that UC management acts unilaterally to introduce new policies without bargaining with the union and goes beyond what HEERA allows)
Article 14 E 3 Article that allows UC management to change Health Benefit carriers, coverage, rates)
Article 21 C Parking – allowing UC management to alter parking and transit rates, open or close lots or parking regulations without bargaining with the Union
Article 12 F: Arbitrations (Brand new grievances dealing with issues which arose after September 30 would not have to be arbitrated if the UC refused….although any such case, including discipline, could instead be filed as an Unfair Labor Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”).

Q. So, for one thing, if there’s no contract by October 1, 2013, ASE’s would be legally able to do work actions and work stoppages over grievances and other disputes, and they would be legally protected from discipline?
A. Yes, that’s correct. Because of other provisions within HEERA, unless Management commits an Unfair Labor Practice, the Union could not take work actions over the negotiations until a legal Impasse was reached and the Union and UC Management went through HEERA’s required Mediation and Fact-Finding procedures. But, after September 30th, actions and stoppages over worksite issues and problems would not be prohibited.

Q. What about deductions of dues and fair share fees?
A. The requirement that UC deducts membership dues and fair share fees and transmits them to the Union is part of HEERA and thus not affected by the expiration of the contract.

Download this FAQ as a PDF.