Friday marked the end of a record-breaking 40-day strike by graduate students at the University of California that had disrupted classes at the esteemed university system.
Two contracts to formally end the work stoppage was approved by the majority of the striking graduate students and teaching assistants, according to union representatives on Friday.
All employees will see pay increases, according to union representatives, with some of the lowest-paid workers seeing pay increases of up to 80%. The contracts also enhance employee benefits, they claimed, helping workers pay for health care and child care costs as well as benefiting purposeful students.
The United Auto Workers represented the bargaining units.
Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 2865, said in a statement that “the dramatic improvements to our salaries and working conditions are the result of tens of thousands of workers striking together in unity.” “These agreements redefine what is possible in terms of how universities support their staff, who form the foundation of their research and educational endeavors.”
Academic student workers and graduate student employees will return to work winter quarter after ratifying a contract with the University of California on Friday. The agreements include higher wages and increased childcare benefits. https://t.co/GvABb3CiWK
— Daily Bruin (@dailybruin) December 24, 2022
The new contracts, which, according to the university system, will go into effect right away and last until May 31, 2025, were warmly welcomed.
The university released a statement saying that the approval “demonstrates once again the University’s strong commitment to providing every one of our hardworking employees with competitive compensation and benefits packages that honor their many contributions to our institution, to our community, and to the state of California.”
The agreements cover roughly 36,000 workers, many of whom earn as little as $24,000 annually, a pitiful wage for those living in cities with campuses of the university system like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Berkeley.
The walkout, which started in mid-November, was the biggest ever among academic employees, according to the union. Other college campuses across the nation were keeping a close eye on it.
A deal that will increase their compensation by 29% has already been ratified by almost 12,000 additional striking workers, primarily postdoctoral students and academic researchers. Additionally, they will receive increased job stability, childcare subsidies, and family leaves.
Before a tentative agreement was struck last Friday, the strike lasted for a month. After numerous failed attempts to reach an agreement, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg acted as a mediator.
The minimum wage for teaching assistants will be $36,000 by the end of 2024, with increased pay for students attending colleges in very pricey cities. According to union reps, graduate student researchers will make at least $40,000.
Employees are eligible for childcare payments of up to $2,000 per semester.
The “Strike to Win” group of employees asked workers to vote against the tentative deal since it did not match their requests for a $54,000 base wage, more financial aid for international students, $2,000 per month for childcare subsidies, and broader safeguards for persons with disabilities.