The University of California system reached tentative contract agreements with two groups of workers who remain on strike, academic student employees and student researchers. The university previously reached agreements with postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, ending their part in a major strike that began Nov. 14. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg mediated the most recent agreements, United Auto Workers union, representing the workers, says will raise pay for some by 66 percent over the life of the 2.5-year contract. The tentative agreements also include expanded benefits and protections for student parents and international workers, and offer protections against bullying and harassment, improvements to accessibility, workplace protections and transit benefits. Members of the union will vote on the contracts this week.
Michael V. Drake, president of the UC system, said in a statement, “Academic student employees and graduate student researchers are central to our academic enterprise and make incredible contributions to the university’s mission of research and education.” He also thanked “our faculty, students, and staff, who have managed the burden of this strike with dedication and patience over the last month.”
The proposed graduate student researcher salary scale will begin at $34,564 by fall 2024. For teaching assistants, the minimum nine-month salary will be $34,000, with minimums in Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles reaching $36,500. While numerous union leaders have expressed their support for the agreement, 15 voting bargaining team members and four alternates released a statement advocating a statewide, no-vote campaign against the tentative deal. These bargaining team members said that the mediated agreement fails to deliver on some of the key issues in the strike, including wages and housing subsidies that would eliminate workers’ rent burdens in California’s expensive housing markets. The union initially sought stipends that were closer to $54,000.