BREAKING: UC Reaches Tentative Agreement with 12,000 Postdocs and Academic Researchers on the 15th Day of Strike

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2022 academic workers’ strike. Please visit Fair UC Now for more details of the strike.

Today, Nov. 29, UAW Local 5810 announced via email that academic researchers and postdoctoral scholars have reached a tentative agreement with the University of California addressing their main concerns regarding wage increases. Despite the provisional agreement, the 12,000 postdocs and academic researchers will remain on strike in unity with Academic Student Employees and Student Researchers until they vote on whether or not to ratify the agreements.

The agreement comes 15 days after the start of the strike that witnessed 48,000 workers joining across all UC campuses in the largest strike at any academic institution in American history. 

In a press conference, President of UAW Local 5810 Neal Sweeney revealed that the ratification vote for the new contracts may be held as early as this week. He also stressed the importance of the UC matching the demands of the other two units as well. 

“There’s two units that reached agreement, collectively they’re 12,000 workers between the two units, postdocs and academic researchers,” Sweeney said. “We think the university should also reach agreements with the other units as soon as possible, once they start to make those serious proposals, the agreement could be reached relatively quickly and if that happens all the units can be voting at the same time.”

He went on to say that it’s still a possibility that academic researchers and postdocs will remain on strike if the other two units have not reached an agreement. 

The new contracts will include a 20–23% salary increase (up to $12,000) by October 2023 for most postdocs and a 29% salary increase for academic researchers. The UC sent an offer to the union last Wednesday, Nov. 23. The union countered their offer on Monday, Nov. 28, which the UC accepted later that day.

Recording Secretary of academic workers Stacy Frederickat UC Berkeley expressed her approval of the newly added protections. 

“On this contract, there’s some pretty amazing changes that will help protect not just things around compensation but to make our workplace one of the most safe and effective spaces in academia,” Frederick said. “One of the things for both of our units is now we have much stronger compensation around paid parental and family leave, so now we have eight weeks 100% pay, which is a really big deal for folks who are wanting to start a family while working here. We have some of the most progressive anti-harassment, anti-bullying information and language to make our environments and our workplace much safer.” 

The following are other benefits from the new proposed contract, as taken from the Nov. 29 email: 

Postdoc Contract Highlights:

  • Compensation that addresses cost of living:
    • Most Postdocs will receive a 20-23% salary increase (up to $12,000) by October 2023; over the course of 5 years as a Postdoc at UC, the current lowest paid Postdoc would see a 57% salary increase; 
    • For 2024-2027: 7.2% annual increase for Postdocs on the scale (3.5% scale increase and 3.7% experience step), 3% annual increase for above-scale Postdocs
    • Faster timelines to receive experience-based step increases
  • Increase from 4 weeks to 8 weeks of Parental and Family Leave paid at 100% for all Postdocs
  • Childcare subsidies that will start at $2,500/annually and increase to $2,800 annually – the first time Postdocs have won a childcare subsidy after 12 years of fighting.
  • Lengthened initial appointments from 1 year to 2 years to ensure job security and longer visas.
  • New Respectful Work Environment Article including industry-setting protections against abusive conduct and bullying that are fully grievable and arbitable.
  • New Immigration Article with guaranteed leave time for immigration appointments and protections if immigration laws change.
  • Protections for workers with disabilities that go beyond the ADA, guaranteeing interim accommodations while the interactive process is ongoing.
  • Commitment to implement free transit passes within 3 years, and a commitment to bargain if free passes have not been implemented in that timeframe.
  • E-bike discount of at least 15%.

Academic Researcher contract highlights: 

  • Compensation that addresses cost of living
    • A typical Academic Researcher will receive 29% in salary increases (between scale and merit increases) over the life of the contract.
    • An Assistant Project Scientist hired in July 2022 would see their compensation increase by $3,078 by July 2023, by an additional $6,395 by July 2024, and by $19,423 by the end of the contract.
    • A Junior Specialist hired in July 2022 would see their compensation increase by $5,459 by July 2023; if they continued as an Assistant Specialist their salary would increase by an additional $6,668 by July 2024, and by a total of $20,620 over the life of the contract.
  • 8 Weeks of Parental and Family Leave paid at 100%, up from 70% pay.
  • Better job security: Longer appointments before merit review, and fewer exceptions to 1-year minimum appointments.
  • All ARs are now eligible to apply for PI status and UC commits to meet with the Union to discuss the expansion of Bridge Funding Programs at each campus.
  • New Respectful Work Environment Article including industry-setting protections against abusive conduct and bullying that are fully grievable and arbitable.
  • Protections for workers with disabilities that go beyond the ADA, guaranteeing interim accommodations while the interactive process is ongoing.
  • Commitment to implement free transit passes within 3 years, and a commitment to bargain if free passes have not been implemented in that timeframe.
  • E-bike discounts of at least 15%.
  • An improved Union Security article to keep our union strong, and a better Grievance and Arbitration process to enforce the contract.

The UCSD Guardian will continue to update this story as it progresses.

Photo by Sophie Nourbakhsh for the UCSD Guardian.

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