University of California Reaches Tentative Contract Deal with Striking Academic Workers

The University of California system reached a tentative agreement with striking graduate students late Friday that, if ratified, could bring an end to a monthlong strike that has paralyzed the 10-campus system.

One of the two bargaining units representing the striking workers, UAW 2865, wrote on Twitter that the tentative agreement includes raises of up to 80 percent for the lowest-paid workers. The strike will continue, it said, until the union’s members ratify the deal.

The university’s statement said it would provide minimum salary scales for academic student workers, including TAs and graduate-student researchers, as well as multiyear pay raises, paid dependent access to university health care, and enhanced paid family leave. If approved, the contracts would be in effect through May 31, 2025.

By October 1, 2024, the minimum nine-month salary for TAs would be $34,000, the university said of the agreement. Currently, the lowest-paid workers earn $23,000. The rates would be slightly higher at the Berkeley, San Francisco, and UCLA campuses, where housing prices are especially high.

The UC strike, which began November 14, started with four bargaining units representing 48,000 graduate students, postdocs, and researchers. It’s created a chaotic end of semester with many professors saying they would be either unable or unwilling to submit final grades, even with extended deadlines. Some said they would forego grading to support striking workers, while others said that without readers or TAs, they couldn’t handle the volume.

Postdocs and researchers were back at work this week after overwhelmingly approving new contracts that included higher wages, paid family leave, and transit benefits. The academic workers who remained on strike agreed to continue negotiating with the university through an outside mediator, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

In a statement, the university system’s president, Michael V. Drake, thanked negotiators “for coming together in a spirit of compromise to reach this tentative agreement. This is a positive step forward for the university and for our students, and I am grateful for the progress we have made together,” he said.

“These agreements will place our graduate student employees among the best supported in public higher education,” Drake said.

In a statement, UAW President Ray Curry said the tentative agreement includes “major pay increases and expanded benefits which will improve the quality of life for all members of the bargaining unit.” He added that “Our members stood up to show the university that academic workers are vital to UC’s success. They deserve nothing less than a contract that reflects the important role they play and the reality of working in cities with extremely high costs of living.”

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