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University of California and Graduate Student Workers Reach Breakthrough Deal to End Strike

Written by Kevin V. NguyenPublished Dec. 17, 2022 • 11:43am
Academic workers call for a Strike Authorization Vote at UCLA on Oct. 12, 2022. | Courtesy Phil Travis/UC Student-Workers Union UAW 2865

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After five weeks of major disruptions across the University of California system, the graduate student worker strike is finally set to end.

The UC announced Friday evening that it had reached a tentative labor agreement with the remaining 36,000 workers that would boost pay and improve benefits.

The strike involved negotiations with four different groups of workers, each with its own unique grievances. The coalition was represented by the United Auto Workers union.

The UC had reached an agreement in November with a subset of the union consisting only of academic researchers and postdoctoral students.

Friday’s breakthrough means that academic student employees, who often take on the important but cumbersome work of grading, tutoring and lecturing, will return to campus once the new contract is ratified.

Picket signs at UC Berkeley’s Sather Gate on Dec. 8, 2022 | Kevin V. Nguyen/The Standard

The tentative agreement would give graduate student workers in the remaining bargaining units an increase in minimum pay from about $23,250 to about $34,000 for nine months of part-time work.

Workers will also be entitled to childcare reimbursements of $1,350 per quarter or $2,025 per semester, plus $1,350 for summer.

Without their labor, UC schools were left scrambling through finals week, where the timely submission of grades is tied to graduation plans and the disbursement of financial aid and veteran’s benefits.

The strike kicked off on Nov. 14, with academic workers citing unfair practices by the UC during the contract bargaining process. At its peak, the strike included nearly 50,000 academic workers across the 10 universities and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Under the tentative agreement, all unfair labor practice charges will be dismissed upon ratification.

As the strike dragged on last week, the UC and the union agreed to voluntary mediation facilitated by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg

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