After nearly a week of bargaining, and as a third systemwide strike loomed, the union representing 13,000 University of California teaching assistants, readers and graders reached a labor agreement with UC management on Tuesday.
The agreement, which concludes a year of negotiations between United Auto Workers 2865 and management, includes class-size provisions new to the UCs. The student workers will vote on ratification over the next weeks.
“Both sides worked hard, and we’re pleased to have reached this tentative agreement,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, UC vice president of human resources. “We’re even more pleased that our students will finish the school year without any more unnecessary disruptions, and will have the valued assistance of our academic student employees.”
Highlights of the tentative agreement, which ends June 30, 2018, include a 16-percent increase in wages over four years; increased child care assistance at $900 per quarter or $1,350 per semester for children through age 12; expansion of paid leave from four weeks to six for birth parents (four paid and two unpaid for non-birth parents); and increased access to lactation facilities and support.
UC and the union agreed to continue discussions on all-gender bathrooms and undocumented students.
The union hailed the agreement as “new terrain for student workers and the labor movement more generally” in a news release.
”One unprecedented agreement creates a joint labor-management program to ensure equal academic and professional development experiences for non-DACA-qualified undocumented graduate students,” the release said. “A second builds labor-management committees to protect a newly agreed-upon right to gender-neutral bathrooms.”
The tense negotiations involved multiple charges of unfair labor practices over alleged threats and intimidation to workers, two systemwide strikes and two barely averted strike threats.
At UC Santa Cruz, pickets were arrested during an April strike and brought up on student conduct charges, the union says. Among the other examples of unfair practices it says workers have faced: UC San Diego docking student workers for more time than they took off to strike.
At UC Davis, graduate students have said they’ve received department-level polls about whether they plan to strike — a practice the students say could have a chilling effect on labor actions.
Appointments for TAs average 42-percent time. A 50-percent appointment pays TAs $17,000 annually. According to a report issued by the union, UC graduate students receive stipends amounting to $5,000 less than at peer institutions when cost of living is included.
This is the latest in a series of agreements UC has reached with its unions. The university finalized multi-year agreements with 10 other bargaining units over the past eight months.