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University Of California Student Workers Ratify Contract To End 6-Week Strike

Many students are gathered outside with signs that say "On Strike! Unfair Labor Practice!"
About 48,000 students are striking for a living wage and in protest of what they say are unfair labor practices by the University of California.
(Adolfo Guzman-Lopez
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Graduate student researchers and academic student workers at the UCs have approved a new contract, ending their six-week strike. The contract goes into effect immediately and includes pay raises, more paid leave, and new protections for workers with disabilities.

The vote ratified a contract agreement reached a week ago between University of California leadership and contract negotiators — although as the vote totals indicate there was still considerable disagreement about whether the contract did enough to address concerns that led to the strike in the first place.

The backstory

Three unions went on strike Nov. 14 after negotiating for most of the year.

  • The largest of the three unions, UAW 2865, represents 19,000 teaching assistants who oversee discussion sections, tutors, and readers.
  • About 17,000 graduate student researchers are represented by Student Researchers United-UAW.
  • Members of the third union, UAW 5810 which represents 12,000 post-doctoral students and academic researchers, voted to approve their contract on Nov. 29.
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Terms of the settlement

A deal brokered by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg provided raises of up to 66%, or more than $13,000 per year at some campuses, as well as parent benefits, greater protections against discrimination and harassment, and transportation benefits.

Were union members expected to ratify?

UC leaders and some negotiators were optimistic when the deal was announced last week, but a group of about a dozen union bargaining team members issued a dissenting statement urging members to vote against the tentative agreement.

The results

Voting ended Friday at 5 p.m. The union representing striking workers reported the vote breakdown as: 11,386 to 7,097 for Academic Student Employees and 10,057 to 4,640 for Student Researchers.

Go deeper: Dissent Among University Of California Academic Workers As They Vote On Agreements To End Five-Week Strike

What questions do you have about colleges and universities?
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez focuses on the stories of students trying to overcome academic and other challenges to stay in college — with the goal of creating a path to a better life.

Updated December 24, 2022 at 7:54 AM PST
This story was updated with results of the vote.