Some 19,000 teaching assistants, graders, readers and tutors in United Auto Workers Local 2865, and 17,000 student researchers in Student Researchers United-UAW ratified new labor contracts with the University of California, ending a labor strike with a bigger pay day for workers.

The vote tally last week for UAW 2865 was 11,386 to 7,097 in favor of the agreement. The SRU-UAW vote was 10,057 to 4,640 for ratification. According to the terms of each agreement, the strike is finished. UAW workers can return to their employment with gains in compensation, childcare subsidies and paid leave, plus new protections against bullying and discrimination.

“The University of California welcomes the ratification of these agreements with our valued graduate student employees,” said Letitia Silas, executive director of system wide labor relations. “The University believed that the assistance of a third-party mediator would help the parties reach agreement, which is why we are so grateful that the union accepted our invitation to mediation and partnered with us in selecting Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to serve as the mediator.”

Steinberg was unable to comment on what was the key to mediating the 40-day strike. According to UC, it had made eight formal requests for neutral private mediation before the UAW agreed to engage with the capital city’s current mayor and former California Senate President pro Tem, on Dec. 9.

“The dramatic improvements to our salaries and working conditions are the result of tens of thousands of workers striking together in unity,” said Rafael Jaime, President of UAW 2865, in a statement. “These agreements redefine what is possible in terms of how universities support their workers, who are the backbone of their research and education enterprise. They include especially significant improvements for parents and marginalized workers, and will improve the quality of life for every single academic employee at the University of California.”

Within 90 days of ratification, UC teaching assistants and associate instructors will get a 7.5% pay hike. Teaching fellows will get an 8.9% bump. Hourly academic student employees will get 5 to 8% increases. By October 1, 2024, the minimum 9-month salary for teaching assistants with a 50% time appointment will be $34,000. By October 1, 2024, the minimum salary rate for UC Berkeley, UCSF, and UCLA teaching assistants will reach $36,500. Associate instructors and teaching fellows will receive a 16.7% increase.

Further, the union ratification of the two contracts also ends the Unfair Labor Practice complaints over violations of labor law that the UAW had filed against UC via California’s Public Employee Relations Board.

The two UAW contracts just ratified with UC will run through May 31, 2025. In the 10-campus UC system, UAW 5810 representing postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers ratified a new five-year agreement with the University in voting that ended on December 9.

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