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 29, 2022

UC and UAW reach tentative agreements for postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers

University of California officials today (Nov. 29) announced tentative agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW) on new five-year contracts for UC Postdoctoral Scholars and Academic Researchers. Once ratified by union members, the new contracts will be effective through September 30, 2027.

The new contracts address key issues including fair compensation, job security and paid family leave.

“Our dedicated colleagues are vital to UC’s research activities and we are very pleased to have reached agreements that honor their many important contributions,” said Letitia Silas, executive director of systemwide labor relations. “These agreements also uphold our tradition of supporting these employees with compensation and benefits packages that are among the best in the country.”

Highlights of the agreements include:

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Compensation:
    • Implementation of a new salary scale by April 1, 2023, which will result in average salary increases of 8 percent for all Postdocs;
    • Annual pay increases each October, with an increase of approximately 7.5 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent in each of the remaining years;
    • Annual experience-based pay increases of 3.7 percent for eligible Postdocs.
  • Child care:
    • Up to $2500 annual reimbursement for child care expenses with flexibility to use funds for child care expenses related to professional travel;
    • Annual $100 increases in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
  • Appointments: Two-year initial appointments (up from one year) followed by one-year reappointments.
  • Paid Family Leave: Effective January 1, 2023, a new special Postdoc Paid Leave program of 8 weeks of 100% paid family leave for all Postdocs.
  • Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and a dispute resolution process.
  • Transit:
    • Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;
    • UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);
    • Formation of a joint labor-management committee to explore additional measures.

Academic Researchers

  • Compensation:
    • Pay increases of 4.5 percent in the first year, 3.5 percent in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years; and 4 percent in the 5th year.
    • Appointments: All reappointments no longer have exceptions for less than minimum length.
  • Paid Leave:
    • Effective January 1, 2023, 8 weeks 100% pay for family care and bonding for eligible Academic Researchers;
    • Increased bereavement leave.
  • Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and provide a dispute resolution process.
  • Transit:
    • Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;
    • UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);
    • Formation of a joint UC-UAW committee to explore additional measures.

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.

Negotiations for Postdoctoral Scholars began in July 2021 and in May 2022 for Academic Researchers.

The UAW also represents UC Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors) and Graduate Student Researchers, and contract negotiations for those groups are ongoing. Information on current University proposals for these groups is available here.

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)

On November 29, 2022, UC and the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced tentative agreements on a new five-year contract for UC Postdoctoral Scholars. Details here.

Academic Researchers (RAs)

On November 29, 2022, UC and the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced tentative agreements on a new five-year contract for UC Academic Researchers. Details here.


Academic Student Employees (ASEs)

  • Upon 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 $1.50 per hour increases. In Fall 2023, TAs and Associate Instructors will be eligible for experience-based increases on top of their 3% annual increases and $1.00 per hour increases for hourly ASEs. 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 the 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) in addition to 5 days of bereavement leave. Short term leave includes 2 days for those on quarters and 3 days for those on semesters.

  • 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.

  • UC is offering to ensure that members have access to a pre-tax account. UC will double match contributions up to $30 (i.e. member contributes $15, UC contributes $30). This offer included access to a UC-negotiated ebike discount program (15% min w/ goal of 20%) and negotiates no-fee or reduced-fee transit passes. Labor and management to meet regularly to discuss transit concerns.

  • 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)

  • UC has proposed dropping the bottom two salary points of the salary scale, which results in 17-26% increases for GSRs currently on the two bottom salary points. The UC proposal increases the current minimum GSR salary scale by 7.5% and the increments between salary points to 7.75% with 3% increases in each subsequent year. It assures minimum salary point placements for GSRs with experience – point 2 with at least one full year of experience; point 3 with at least two full years of experience.

  • 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 that includes 12 days of paid Personal Time Off (PTO) in addition to 5 days of bereavement leave. Short term leave includes 2 days for those on quarters and 3 days for those on semesters.

  • 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.

  • UC is offering to ensure that members have access to a pre-tax account. UC will double match contributions up to $30 (i.e. member contributes $15, UC contributes $30). This offer included access to a UC-negotiated ebike discount program (15% min w/ goal of 20%) and negotiates no-fee or reduced-fee transit passes. Labor and management to meet regularly to discuss transit concerns.

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

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

It’s important to note that Graduate Student Researchers and Academic Student Employees are part-time student employees who work 20 hours or less per week. See details on UC's offers here.

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.