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UC and United Auto Workers enter private mediation

The following message was sent from Letitia Silas, executive director, Systemwide Labor Relations, on Dec. 9, 2022:

To the University of California community:

I write today to share with you an important development in the University’s negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) regarding contracts for our Graduate Student Researchers and Academic Student Employees.

I am pleased to tell you that after months of good faith but challenging negotiations, and multiple requests to engage a private mediator, the UAW has accepted our invitation to join us in mediation with a neutral third party. We view this as a welcome development — one that we hope helps us resolve our remaining differences, achieve fair contracts that honor our highly valued graduate student employees, and allows us to return our full attention back to the business of the University and serving our students and others.

Mediation is confidential, meant to facilitate candid conversations and potential solutions. During this time, both parties will be prohibited from speaking publicly about the negotiations. We are hopeful this environment, and the assistance of an objective third party, will allow us to make meaningful progress toward resolution and settle these contracts without further delay. A timeline for mediation will be set soon.

To date, we have presented the UAW what we believe are very fair and generous offers — offers that have been responsive to union priorities and represent genuine compromise by the University, and would keep our Graduate Student Researchers and Academic Student Employees among the best-compensated in the country for their part-time work. These students are valued members of our academic community and help us maintain the University’s excellence; fair contracts also help us attract top talent.

In addition to salary increases totaling 12.5% to 48.4% over three years, our offers also include childcare reimbursements and 100% coverage of campus fees for graduate student employees who have 25% part-time employment or greater and already receive 100% coverage of tuition, student services fees, and health care premium coverage. Considering the covered cost of tuition and fees, health care premiums, childcare support, transit subsidy, and other benefits, the cumulative value of the compensation packages ranges from a minimum of $51,000 for 50%-time for Academic Student Employees (level 1) to a potential maximum of more than $96,000 for 50%-time for Graduate Student Researchers (level 6) by fall 2024 for an average of 20 hours of work per week.

You can be assured that our goal is always to try to achieve agreements by working collaboratively with our union partners at the bargaining table. This is what we have done repeatedly over the past year, as illustrated by the four agreements we’ve achieved with unions representing our lecturers, our nurses, our public safety officers, and our clerical and other administrative staff. In each of these prior negotiations, both sides bargained in good faith, and both sides compromised. Using this same approach, the University was also able to reach tentative agreements with UAW’s postdoctoral scholar and academic researcher units last month; those agreements are awaiting approval by UAW members.

We appreciate the patience and resilience shown by our students, faculty members, and staff during this process. We know the last few months have been challenging, and we are working hard, every day, to settle these contracts as quickly as possible. We will keep you updated on our progress.

Letitia Silas
Executive Director
Systemwide Labor Relations

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