a group gathers and holds signs during a strike on the UC Santa Barbara campus in November 2022
Supporters gather outside the Social Science and Media Studies building at UCSB for a rally in November to support University of California academic workers. Credit: Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk file photo

Tentative agreements have been made in labor negotiations for academic workers in the University of California System. However, the statewide strike is not over yet.

United Auto Workers 5810, the union representing UC academic workers, has been negotiating with the system over unfair labor conditions and have come to agreements on some of their terms for academic works and postdoctoral researchers following the third week of the strike.

On Nov. 28, UC academic researchers and postdoctoral researchers reached tentative agreements for their new contracts with the UC system, including resolutions on appointments, compensation, and parking and transit.

“Some progress has been made, but we’re not there yet,” fifth-year UC Santa Barbara physics graduate student Joseph Costello said.

The postdoctoral tentative agreement came to resolutions on appointments (assigning the postdoctoral position), compensation, and parking and transit.

For postdoctoral researchers, the tentative agreements include a 20% to 23% salary increase of up to $12,000 by October 2023, according to the union’s bargaining updates. Over the course of five years, the current lowest paid postdoctoral researchers would see a 57% salary increase. The university also agreed to implement free transit passes within three years, and a commitment to bargain if free passes have not been implemented within three years.

The academic researchers came to agreements with the UC system on compensation and parking and transportation.

Academic researchers will receive a roughly 29% raise throughout the term of their contract, which would be implemented starting next July, according to the union’s bargaining updates. Academic researchers also would receive eight weeks of parental and family leave paid at 100%; previously, leave was paid at 70%. Academic researchers would be entitled to free transit for three years.

For more information on the details of the agreements, visit fairucnow.org.

While the strike continues, Costello said there is a push for a deal to be settled before the end of the UC System’s finals week, which is Friday. However, Costello said the union is prepared to remain on strike however long it takes for union members to see a fair contract.

“The university administration has sort of shown through decades of neglect that they’re not going to fight for that vision,” Costello said. “So, the only people who are going to fight for it are the graduate students and the undergrads in the community.”

Goleta Mayor Perotti, on the suggestion of James Kyriaco and on behalf of the Goleta City Council, sent a letter to Michael Drake, president of the University of California, urging him to resolve the unfair labor practice strikes of the UAW-represented academic workers. 

“As one of California’s largest employers, and a major employer of city of Goleta residents, the UC has not only the opportunity but also the obligation to be a leader in setting industry standards for academia, thus leading the way for other public employers,” Perotti wrote in the letter.

The letter was reviewed by Assistant City Manager Kristine Schmidt, City Attorney Megan Garibaldi and City Manager Robert Nisbet.

“If this university is going to live up to its dream of being a public university, then it needs to be a true university for the people,” Costello said. “And if only rich people can come to grad school, that is not living up to that promise.”

Last Friday, the UC made a new wage proposal for academic student employees and student researchers that is in review by bargaining members of the union.

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Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.