Information

about UC-UAW negotiations and a UAW strike

This page was created to provide factual information about UC’s contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers(UAW), and UC’s position on the union’s strike. UC continues to negotiate in good faith with the union and is committed to working collaboratively with the UAW to find solutions to outstanding issues.

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Status of Negotiations

Updated: November 23, 2022

The University of California has held daily bargaining sessions with the United Auto Workers since Nov. 14 to secure fair contracts for graduate students and academic employees. This is in addition to over 50 bargaining sessions we have conducted with the union since the Spring. We have secured 95 tentative agreements to date on issues ranging from workplace accessibility to respectful work environments to nondiscrimination in employment.

The proposals offered by the University to the UAW would place our graduate students and academic employees at the top of the pay scale across major public universities and on par with top private universities. Though we have reached many tentative agreements with the union, we remain apart on key issues related to tying wages and pay increases to housing costs and tuition remission for nonresident international students. To this end, the University continues to call for the UAW to join us in seeking neutral private mediation to help secure a contract.

The University continues to do everything possible to mitigate the impacts of a strike and ensure continuity of instruction and research. We have appropriate measures in place to ensure instructional continuity and are encouraging faculty departments and academic units to provide additional support and resources for student learning. Our campuses will be prepared for contingencies in the event a strike impacts the conclusion of the academic term.

The University is committed to achieving a fair and reasonable contract that honors the important contributions these bargaining unit members make toward UC’s mission of education, research, and providing quality patient care.

Background

UC is currently in contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) which represents UC academic employee groups in four separate bargaining units: Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors), and Graduate Student Researchers.

UC’s primary goal in these negotiations is multiyear agreements that recognize these employees’ important and highly valued contributions to UC’s teaching and research mission with fair pay, quality health and family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment.

UC believes its offers are generous, responsive to union priorities, and recognize the many valuable contributions of these employees. UC’s proposals include pay increases, expanded paid leaves, increased family support, and child care benefits for postdoctoral scholars, ASEs, and GSRs, and full coverage of all campus fees for eligible ASEs and GSRs. This is in addition to full UC coverage for tuition, healthcare, and student services for eligible ASEs and GSRs.

Throughout negotiations, UC has listened carefully to UAW priorities with an open mind and a genuine willingness to compromise. Negotiations are ongoing and tentative agreements have been reached on several important topics such as respectful work environment and health and safety matters.

At the same time, significant differences remain regarding a number of core issues. UC has proposed that UC and the UAW enter into mediation with a neutral, private mediator to help resolve the remaining differences.

UC continues to negotiate in good faith and is committed to reaching agreements as soon as possible.

UC’s responses to priority union issues

The following summarizes UC’s positions on priority union issues common to all four bargaining units.

Fair pay: Providing fair and competitive pay to all employees is a UC priority and essential to ensuring the excellence of our workforce and the quality of our service to students and the public. Due to the different roles and duties of each of the UAW-represented groups, compensation for each bargaining unit necessarily varies. UC’s specific pay proposals for each group are outlined below.

Respectful work environment: UC has listened closely to the UAW and bargaining unit members’ concerns about workplace environment issues and is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the union on the issue.

Housing: The UAW is asking that UC increase wages such that no bargaining unit member pays more than 30% of their salary toward their housing costs, with wage increases tied to housing costs. Affordable housing remains an issue for individuals and families throughout California, including for many UC students, faculty, and staff, and increasing access to affordable student housing is a top UC priority. On average, UC rents systemwide are 20-25% below market rates, with some campuses providing even deeper discounts. UC has offered wage increases for all UAW members which would further help them meet their housing needs.

Transportation subsidies: The UAW is asking that UC cover 100% of the cost of regional public transit passes for all bargaining unit members; provide cash incentives to take public transit or bike to work; and subsidize the purchase of bicycles, including e-bikes. At UC campuses, not only are UAW members who are students able to participate in transit and parking-related services on the same basis as other employees, eight of UC’s 10 campuses offer some form of student transit subsidy. In addition, UC has offered to pay 100% of campus fees for eligible appointments which, if accepted by the UAW, means all existing student-funded transit discounts would be fully funded by UC.

Workplace accessibility: UC has an existing process to accommodate employees with specific needs. On occasion, such employees need interim assistance while awaiting a permanent solution. UC and the UAW have agreed to temporary workplace adjustments (e.g., a sit-stand desk has not yet arrived so an adjustment is made to work in a different location) to address individual needs and circumstances, as well as joint labor-management meetings to further discuss workplace accessibility issues.

International student fees: The UAW is requesting that international students in bargaining units be exempt from paying non-resident tuition fees, which is a financial benefit not afforded to other students.

Frequently asked questions about key issues

Student employees say UC doesn’t pay them enough to live on — what’s UC’s response?

At UC, academic student employment is strictly part-time in order to support students while they are pursuing their graduate or doctoral degree. In fact, UC policy prohibits them from working more than 20 hours per week to ensure they have the time and energy they need for their studies and other academic activities. Accordingly, their salary rates reflect a part-time work schedule.

UC has a long tradition of providing its academic student employees with some of the best compensation and other financial support in the country. Not only is UC’s current proposal fair and generous in terms of proposed pay increases and other benefits, if accepted UC’s current wage proposals would place our student employees at the top of the pay scale among the nation’s leading public universities and are more comparable to what the top U.S. private universities offer.

To put UC’s current wage proposals in further context, if UC’s student workers were full-time employees, here is the full-time equivalent pay under UC’s proposal:

Student employee group Proposed salary ranges
for 50%-time work
Equivalent salary ranges
if these were full-time employees
Academic Student Employees $24,874 – $30,893 $49,748 – $61,786
Graduate Student Researchers $28,275 – $47,679 $56,550 – $95,358

These part-time work opportunities are one of many ways in which UC supports these student employees as they pursue their course of study. In addition to competitive pay and annual pay increases, UC also provides eligible student employees the following compensation:

  • 100% UC-paid tuition and campus fees of $13,707 – $22,248 depending on the campus
  • Reimbursements for child care expenses
  • UC-paid leave for medical care, pregnancy, baby bonding, and family care
  • UC-paid health insurance premiums
  • UC subsidies and discounts for transit and parking programs
  • Student housing rents that are 20-25 percent below market rates, with some campuses providing even deeper discounts

Why won’t UC tie wages and pay increases to housing rents as the union is requesting?

UC believes its wage proposals are highly competitive and provide strong support for students. Rental rates for non-UC housing vary across the state and UC has no ability to control or predict rates charged by private landlords and companies. The financial impacts of such an unprecedented proposal would be both large and unpredictable.

At the same time, we are acutely aware that affordable housing is a serious statewide issue in California, and we are very sensitive to the housing challenges our faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students face. In addition to being among the nation’s most highly compensated student employees, UC also offers undergraduate and graduate students multiple types of support to help them with their housing costs, including:

  • Under-market rents: On average, UC student housing rents systemwide are 20-25% below market rates, with some campuses providing even deeper discounts — examples:
    • Family student housing rates at UCSB are 50-60% below market
    • Graduate family housing rates at UC Irvine are at least 39% below market
    • UCLA housing rates range from 20-55% below market

A top priority for UC is the creation and acquisition of more affordable student housing:

  • UC launched its Student Housing Initiative in January 2016 to add 14,000 beds by fall 2020. UC exceeded its 2020 goal with 15,000 beds.
  • UC plans an additional 26,000 beds across the system by 2025. These new units will be 10-20 percent below market rate in their respective communities.

Why can’t UC waive out-of-state supplemental tuition for international and other non-resident graduate students?

As a state-funded public institution, UC has an obligation to California resident students. Waiving tuition for out-of-state (including international) student employees puts California resident students at a financial disadvantage, as doing so would effectively give non-resident students a larger compensation package than resident student employees for doing the same work. We greatly value and appreciate the contributions of our international graduate and other non-resident graduate students, and we support them in a variety of ways. However, exempting them from paying nonresident supplemental tuition would be unfair to our in-state student employees and is counter to UC’s commitment to the residents of California.

How is UC addressing the union’s request for transportation and parking support?

At UC campuses, not only are UAW-represented student employees able to participate in transit and parking-related services on the same basis as other employees, eight of UC’s 10 campuses offer some form of student transit subsidy. In addition, UC has offered to pay 100% of campus fees for eligible appointments which, if accepted by the UAW, means all existing student-funded transit discounts would be fully funded by UC. Also, UC has offered to ensure all campuses will make pre-tax programs available to eligible employees for purposes of paying for transit and has committed to matching graduate student employee contributions up to $30 per month into such accounts. Finally, UC has committed to negotiating a significant e-bike discount programs for employees interested in alternative methods of transportation.

UAW claims UC has committed unlawful acts and is bargaining in bad faith — is this true?

We strongly disagree with the UAW’s allegations and welcome the opportunity to address them in front of the state labor board. Here are some key points regarding UAW’s claims of Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs). Though the UAW has filed numerous charges of unfair labor practices (ULP) against the University, to date there has been no finding of wrongdoing by UC. After a ULP is filed, a PERB agent reviews the charge and determines whether a “complaint” should be issued.

A “complaint” is not a ruling or finding of wrongdoing — it is a preliminary determination that the allegations on their face are sufficient to warrant closer review. PERB has issued complaints on several of UAW’s ULPs, and the hearings on these charges are scheduled for February 2023. PERB has not fully adjudicated any of the UAW’s ULP charges, so to date, there has been no finding of wrongdoing by UC.

In the last year, UC has settled contracts with unions representing UC lecturers, nurses, police and administrative staff. These agreements were the result of both sides working collaboratively to find solutions, and demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to compromise at the bargaining table. UC has approached the negotiations with UAW in the same fashion and remains committed to continuing its good-faith efforts to reach agreements with UAW as quickly as possible.

What UC is offering each bargaining unit

Postdoctoral Scholars (Postdocs)

Chart showing current contract and the offer from UC for postdocs
  • UC is proposing a new UC salary scale for postdocs which offers an average 8% increase in year one, 5% in year two, and annual range adjustments of 3% in subsequent years, in addition to annual experience-based increases.

  • UC is proposing a new childcare reimbursement program for eligible postdocs which would provide up to $2500 for childcare costs annually for qualified dependents.

  • UC has offered an expanded benefit that includes up to 8 weeks of paid leave for baby bonding and family care for eligible postdocs.

  • In addition to maintaining annual caps on parking rates, UC will provide access to a pre-tax card or another method of paying for transit costs on a pre-tax basis within 12 months of contract ratification.

  • UC postdocs are eligible to participate in the Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plans which include medical, dental, vision, life, AD&D, short-term disability, and voluntary long-term disability. Postdocs shall also continue to be eligible to participate in UC’s retirement plan(s) consistent with prior participation terms.


Academic Student Employees (ASEs)

Chart showing current contract and the offer from UC for academic student employees
  • Within 90 days from contract ratification, Teaching Assistants and Associate Instructors would receive a 7% pay increase; Teaching Fellows would receive an 8.33% increase. Hourly-paid ASEs would receive 5-8% increases. Next fall, TAs and Associate Instructors will be eligible for experience-based increases on top of their 3% increases annually. For example, a TA with one year of teaching experience today who will have two years of teaching experience by next fall will see a total pay increase of 16.9% percent by October 1, 2023.

  • UC is offering to increase the childcare reimbursement to $1350/quarter or $2025/semester, plus $1350 for summer session. This represents a 22 percent increase over the current contract.

  • UC’s offer includes an expanded benefit of 8 weeks of paid pregnancy disability leave (up from 6 weeks) and 5 weeks of paid baby bonding, personal medical, and family medical leave (up from 4 weeks).

  • UC has proposed to cover 100% of campus fees for eligible ASEs with 25 percent or greater appointments, up from $100 per quarter and $150 per semester. This represents an increase of over $1,000 per year on certain campuses, in addition to the 100% coverage of tuition, student services fees, and health care premiums already provided to qualified ASEs. This amounts to UC covering a total of $13,707 - $22,248 for all tuition and fees for eligible ASEs, depending on the campus.

  • UAW members who are students are able to participate in transit and parking-related services on the same basis as other employees; eight of UC’s 10 campuses offer some form of student transit subsidy.

  • Eligible ASEs may participate in a UC-sponsored student health plan to the same degree as other eligible students at that campus. Eligible ASEs with 25 percent or more appointments will receive full remission of monthly premium for a UC-sponsored student health plan.

  • ASEs shall also continue to be eligible to participate in UC’s retirement plan(s) consistent with prior participation terms.

Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs)

Chart showing current contract and the offer from UC for graduate student researchers
  • Most GSRs will see 9-10% percent increases in year one of the contract, with a 3% percent increase in each subsequent year. GSRs who are on the lowest two salary points will see a 17-26% percent increase in the first year. For example, a GSR who is currently on Step 2 with a 50% appointment will see their monthly salary increase by 17.5%  percent in the first year of the contract.

  • UC’s offer increases the childcare reimbursement to $1350/quarter or $2025/semester; plus $1350 for summer. This represents a 22% percent increase over what campuses currently provide.

  • UC’s offer includes an expanded benefit of 8 weeks of paid pregnancy disability leave (up from 6 weeks) and 5 weeks of paid baby bonding, personal medical, and family medical leave (up from 4 weeks). In addition, UC is offering GSRs a new benefit of 12 days of paid Personal Time Off (PTO).

  • UC has proposed to cover 100% of campus fees for eligible GSRs with 25% or greater appointments, up from $100 per quarter and $150 per semester. This represents an increase of over $1,000 per year on certain campuses, in addition to the 100% coverage of tuition, student services fees, and health care premiums already provided to qualified GSRs. This amounts to UC covering a total of $13,707 - $22,248 for all tuition and fees for eligible GSRs, depending on the campus.

  • UAW members who are students able to participate in transit and parking-related services on the same basis as other employees; eight of UC’s 10 campuses offer some form of student transit subsidy.

  • Eligible GSRs may participate in a UC-sponsored student health plan to the same degree as other eligible students at that campus. Eligible GSRs with 25% percent or more appointments to receive full remission of monthly premium for a UC-sponsored student health plan.

Academic Researchers (RAs)

Chart showing current contract and the offer from UC for academic researchers
  • UC has proposed a 4.5% increase in year one of the contract followed by 3% increases in each subsequent year for a total 16% pay increase over the life of the contract, in addition to existing merit increases.

  • UC is offering 8 weeks of fully paid leave for family care and bonding for Family Medical Leave-eligible Academic Researchers.

  • Access to the comprehensive retirement, medical, dental, and other benefit programs generally available to other non-represented non-faculty academic employees.

  • In addition to maintaining annual caps on parking rates, UC will provide access to a pre-tax card or other method of paying for transit costs on a pre-tax basis within 12 months of contract ratification.

How compensation for UC academic employees compares nationally

To maintain fair and competitive compensation for UC academic employees, UC researches the pay, benefits and other terms of employment that other top-tier U.S. universities — both public and private — provide their academic employees.

The wage proposals offered to the UAW, if accepted, would place UC’s academic employees at the top of the pay scale among the country’s leading public universities and are more comparable to what the top U.S. private universities offer.

In addition to competitive pay and annual salary increases, UC also provides many academic employees the following financial support:

  • reimbursements for child care expenses for eligible student employees and trainees
  • UC-paid leave for medical care, pregnancy, baby bonding, and family care
  • 100% UC-paid tuition, campus fees and healthcare remission for eligible student employees
  • Student housing rents that are 20-25 percent below market rates, with some campuses providing even deeper discounts

Summarized below are what new salary ranges for UC academic employees would be under UC’s proposals (it’s important to note that student employees are part-time employees working 20 hours or less per week)

Postdoctoral Scholars: Full-time employees paid primarily from external grant funds.
Current salary range: $55,632 — $66,600
Proposed new salary range: $60,000 — $71,952 (7.5% or greater increase)

Academic Researchers: Full-time employees paid primarily from external grant funds.
Current salary range: $49,000 — $242,900
Proposed new salary range: $50,960 — $252,616 (4% increase)

Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/associate instructors/teaching fellows): Employees who typically work 20 hours or less per week while earning their graduate or doctoral degree.
Current salary range (50%-time): $23,246 — $28,871
Proposed new salary range (50%-time): $24,874 — $30,893 (7% increase)

Graduate Student Researchers: Graduate student employees who typically work 20 hours or less per week while earning their graduate or doctoral degree. These employees are paid primarily from external grant funds.
Current salary range (50%-time): $22,005 — $43,119
Proposed new salary range (50%-time): $28,275 — $47,679  (9-10% increases for most GSRs)

UC committed to collaboration and compromise

In the last year, UC has settled contracts with unions representing UC lecturers, nurses, police and clerical and other administrative staff. These agreements were the result of both sides working collaboratively to find solutions, and demonstrating flexibility and a genuine willingness to compromise at the bargaining table. UC has approached the negotiations with UAW in the same fashion.

UC’s position on and preparations for a UAW strike

The UAW bargaining unit members began a strike on November 14, which could adversely affect students and other members of the UC community.

The University continues to do everything possible to mitigate the impacts of a strike and ensure continuity of instruction and research. We have appropriate measures in place to ensure instructional continuity and are encouraging faculty departments and academic units to provide additional support and resources for student learning. Our campuses will be prepared for contingencies in the event a strike impacts the conclusion of the academic term.

Ultimately, differences must be resolved at the bargaining table, with both sides being flexible and willing to compromise. UC believes its proposals are fair, reasonable, and responsive to the union’s priorities, and looks forward to continuing negotiations with the UAW and settling these contracts as quickly as possible.