University Of California: Friday marked the end of a record-breaking 40-day strike by graduate students at the Academic of California that had disrupted classes at the esteemed university system. According to union representatives on Friday, two contracts to legally end the work stoppage were agreed upon by most of the striking graduate students and teaching assistants.
According to union representatives, all employees will experience salary increases, with some of the lowest-paid workers seeing pay increases of up to 80%. They claimed the contracts also enhance employee benefits, helping workers pay for health care and child care costs and benefiting purposeful students.
The United Auto Workers represented the negotiating units. Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 2865, said in a statement that “the enormous improvements to our salary and working conditions are the consequence of tens of thousands of workers striking together in solidarity.”
“These accords redefine what is possible in terms of how universities support their staff, who are the foundation of their research and educational endeavors.” The new contracts, which, according to the university system, will go into effect immediately and last until May 31, 2025, were warmly welcomed.
The university released a statement saying that the approval “demonstrates the University’s strong commitment to providing all our hardworking employees with competitive compensation and benefits packages that honor their many contributions to our institution, our community, and 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 among academic employees, according to the union.
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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.
A Landmark Wage Increase at the University of California
Many graduate students won a pay increase of over 50% after 5 weeks on strike. The victory is a product of the militancy that has pushed their union to the vanguard of organized labor in higher edhttps://t.co/YCXU36UkvE
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) December 24, 2022
The minimum wage for teaching assistants will be $36,000 by the end of 2024, with increased pay for college students in costly 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.
After over a month on strike, 36,000 University of California academic workers ratified a new contract securing major raises, improvements to healthcare & childcare benefits, working conditions, & more. Their struggle is an inspiration to every worker—there is power in a union!
— Party for Socialism and Liberation (@pslweb) December 24, 2022