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Academic Researchers Unit (RA Unit) Toolkit

Review the Contract for the Academic Researchers Unit (RA) between the University of California and the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/ra/index.html.

At UC Merced, the following titles are part of the RA Unit

  • Specialists, including Junior Specialists
    • Title/Job Codes: 3300, 3301, 3310, 3311, 3320, 3321, 3329, 3330
  • Project Scientists
    • Title/Job Codes: 3390, 3391, 3392, 3393, 3394, 3395, 3490, 3491, 3492, 3493, 3494, 3495
  • Professional Researcher
    • Title/Job Codes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1997, 1998, 1999, 3170, 3180, 3190, 3200, 3210, 3220

All local policies and procedures apply. Any questions about whether or not a policy or procedure applies, please consult the School staff or Academic Personnel. Please review the Position Planning for Academic Research Titles (PDF) guidance if you need assistance in selecting the correct research title for a recruitment.

Academic Researcher Template Letters

The Contract refers to multiple template letters, some of which are found in the appendices of the contract. Departments should obtain all template letters formatted for UC Merced by contacting Academic Personnel. All forms and letters are required to be reviewed/approved by the School and Academic Personnel prior to sharing with the employee.

Template forms and letters are available for the following in the Academic Personnel Box folder:

  • Initial Appointment Letter
  • Initial Appt-Reappt Less than One-year Worksheet
  • Merit/Promotion Review - Notice of eligibility for a merit/promotion review
  • Reappointment Letter
  • Non-reappointment Letters
    • Notice of Action for Non-reappointment
    • Intent for Non-reappointment
  • Layoff and Reduction in Time Forms/Letters:
    • Layoff and Reduction in Time Worksheet
    • Notice of Layoff
    • Notice of Reduction in time
    • Reduction in Time Agreement Form
    • Reduction in Salary Agreement Form

For Out of Unit Movement, Corrective Action and Dismissal, and Voluntary Reduction in Time templates, please contact Academic Personnel.

Appointment and Reappointment

For appointment, follow the applicable MAPP procedure for the title series.

  • Upon approval of the appointment and within seven (7) calendar days of appointment, the School is required to give the new employee a notice of appointment based on the template available via the Academic Personnel Box folder.
  • This notice of appointment contains critical information required by the contract.

For reappointment, the same notice of appointment is required.

Most Academic Researchers are exempt; however, some part-time Academic Researchers are non-exempt (hourly).

Workload must be commensurate with appointment percentage.

BEST PRACTICE: Set work schedule to align with appointment percentage.

Example: 80% = Monday through Thursday.

BEST PRACTICE: Avoid odd appointment percentages,

Example: 60%, not 63.2%

BEST PRACTICE: Avoid 49% appointments.

BEST PRACTICE: For any part-time appointee, PI should document how they assign workload in such a way that workload does not exceed appointment percentage.

Note:  Additional steps required when there is a need for an appointment or reappointment (prior to the first review) to be for less than one-year:

  • School staff downloads the current worksheet and appropriate template letter from Academic Personnel Box Folder
    • Initial Appt-Reappt Less than One-year Worksheet
    • TEMPLATE Appointment-Reappointment Letter (Appendix in MOU)
  • School staff works with PI to complete the worksheet
  • School staff drafts letter using template and submits the worksheet to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for review and approval.
  • Once approved by Academic Personnel, signed letter may be issued by the School.
  • Final letter must be provided again to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for routing to the union.
Appointment and Reappointment - Process for Variable Appointment or Temporary Augmentation in Appointment

When there is a need for a variable appointment or a temporary augmentation in appointment that does not align with the appointment end date:

  • School staff downloads the current worksheet and appropriate template letter from Academic Personnel Box Folder.
    • TEMPLATE Variable or Temporary Increase in Appointment Worksheet
    • TEMPLATE Appointment-Reappointment Variable Percentages Letter OR TEMPLATE Temporary Augmentation Does Not Align with Appointment End Date Letter
  • School staff works with PI to complete the worksheet
  • School staff drafts letter using template and submits the worksheet to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for review and approval.
  • Once approved by Academic Personnel, signed letter may be issued by the School.
  • Final letter must be provided again to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for routing to the union.

When there is a need for temporary augmentation that aligns with the appointment end date:

  • School staff downloads the current worksheet and appropriate template letter from Academic Personnel Box Folder.
    • TEMPLATE Temporary Augmentation Aligns with Appointment End Date Letter
  • School staff drafts letter using template and submits the worksheet and draft letter to Academic Personnel for review.
  • Once approved by the Academic Personnel Office, signed letter may be issued by the School.
  • Final letter must be provided again to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for routing to the union.
Deferral

Academic Researchers may request a deferral at the time they receive their notice of eligibility for merit/promotion. A written request for a deferral should be submitted to the Dean for approval.

Granting a deferral request is at the discretion of the University.

Job Code Map for RA Unit to Non-Represented to WOS Academic Researchers

Use the job code map available as an Excel file at the following link to determine equivalent RA Unit, Non-Represented and WOS Academic Researcher job codes (excel).

Layoff and Reduction in Time

A Layoff or Reduction in Time may be based on:

  • Lack of appropriate funding
  • Lack of work
  • Change in Programmatic need

Layoff order is based on special skills, knowledge, or ability

The layoff unit at UC Davis is the laboratory or Research unit

The employee gets a 45-day notice of layoff or reduction in time

  • A template worksheet and letter are available from the Academic Personnel Box folder.
  • Academic Personnel must review and approve notices of layoff before they are issued
  • Academic Personnel will provide notice to union within five days of notice to Academic Researcher

An Academic Researcher who has been laid off or had their time reduced shall have “layoff status” for one year, or until the end of their appointment, whichever is sooner.

An Academic Researcher on layoff status shall be offered a vacant position that the University intends to fill for the same title and in the same layoff unit, if the Academic Researcher is qualified.

The School is responsible for ensuring laid-off Academic Researchers receive consideration of their qualifications for vacant positions in the same layoff unit.

Layoff and Reduction in Time Process

When need for Layoff or Reduction in Time becomes known:

  • School staff downloads the current layoff/reduction in time worksheet and template letter from Academic Personnel Box Folder.
  • School staff works with PI to complete the worksheet
  • School drafts letter using template and submits the worksheet and draft letter to their assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for review and approval.
  • Once approved by Academic Personnel, signed letter may be issued by the School.
  • Final letter must be provided again to assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for routing to the union.
Layoff and Reduction in Time - Special Provision for PIs and Co-PIs

PIs and co-PIs may request to reduce their salaries as an alternative to layoff or reduction in time:

  • Granting request is at the discretion of campus
  • Reduction may not exceed their term appointment
  • Agreement must be in writing – a template agreement is available from Academic Personnel via the School
  • PI must remain FLSA exempt
  • PI’s effort must remain commensurate with their appointment percentage

Process:

  • School downloads the current reduction in salary agreement template letter from Academic Personnel Box Folder
  • School works with PI to complete the template
  • PI signs completed reduction in salary agreement letter and submits it to department chair
  • Department chair reviews and signs reduction in salary agreement letter
  • Final letter must be provided by the department to the PI, School, and assigned analyst in Academic Personnel for routing to the union.
Merit and Promotion Policies

Academic Researchers are eligible for advancement (merit/promotion) after normative time at current step (2, 3, or 4 years).

All local policies and procedures apply to the merit and promotion review process. Some resources include:

There are strict timelines and the campus must be consistent in following our practices. Reviews must be concluded by the effective date of July 1.

Merit and Promotion Process for Notification of Eligibility

A "Notice of Eligibility" letter for a merit/promotion review is required at least six (6) weeks before the review materials are due to the department. The notice of eligibility is available in the Academic Personnel Box folder. The six-week deadline was added to the Schedule for Academic Personnel Actions.

  • Schools: Maintain eligibility lists of academic researchers who are eligible to be reviewed and independently confirm accuracy of report.
    • Note: Steps with indefinite duration (no normative time) must be reviewed for merit at least every five years with a minimum of a 3-year appointment, and, if reappointed followed by a 2-year appointment. Academic researchers at indefinite steps still appear on the eligibility lists according to normative time and the process of notification of eligibility should be followed every year until positive advancement.
  • Schools: Provide written notification of eligibility to academic researchers eligible for review at least 6 weeks before their materials are due to the department. Written notification of eligibility to candidates must include:
    • List of materials and how they should be submitted
    • Due date to submit materials (at least six weeks out)
    • Link to series article and applicable campus review guidelines
    • Effective date of the merit or promotion (the following July 1)
    • A template is obtained in the Academic Personnel Box folder
  • Candidate responds to notification and submits to the department chair and School.
  • Once Candidate Submits Materials to Department:
    • The direct supervisor will review and evaluate the materials received for the requested merit/promotion/five-year review.
    • The supervisor will write a case analysis and include a recommendation for the action.
    • The case will go to a review committee (this can be a bylaw unit or 3-4 members of UC Merced’s research community at the level of the proposed promotion or above, or senate faculty members). One member of the review committee will summarize the committee discussion in a transmittal memo.
    • Once the review committee has discussed the case, they will vote on the recommended action and the department chair records the outcome of the vote in the transmittal memo.
    • The case, including the transmittal letter, is reviewed by the Dean or Vice Chancellor for Research. According to the delegation of authority, advancement decisions may be made by the Dean/Vice Chancellor for Research or the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel.
Non-Reappointment

Written notice of non-reappointment is NOT required for:

  • Appointments that are less than 50% time or short-term appointments of less than a year.
  • Appointments of more than 50% time with fewer than eight (8) consecutive years of service.

Written notice of non-reappointment IS required for:

  • Appointments of more than 50% time with eight (8) or more consecutive years of service.
  • Requires Notice of Intent – at least sixty (60) days prior to the end date and shall state the following:
    • The intended action is not to reappoint the Academic Researcher and the proposed effective date;
    • The basis for non-reappointment, including a copy of any materials supporting the decision not to reappoint;
    • The Academic Researcher’s right to respond either orally or in writing within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of issuance of the written Notice of Intent; and
    • The name of the person to whom the Academic Researcher should respond
  • The Academic Researcher shall be entitled to respond, either orally or in writing, within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of issuance of the written Notice of Intent. The response, if any, shall be reviewed by the administration.
  • After timely review of the response, if any, the University shall issue a written Notice of Action, within thirty (30) calendar days of the date of issuance of the written Notice of Intent, to the Academic Researcher and the Union of the non-reappointment and its effective date.
Off-scale salary components
  • Contract permits off-scale components to salary
  • Increases to the off-scale components are at the location’s discretion
  • No notice to the union required
  • All off-scales must be in $100 increments:
    • For General Salary Administration, APM 600-18 b: “Annual salary rates are rounded to the nearest $100 if the scale rates for the title series are given in $100 increments.”
    • For Off-scale Salaries, APM 620-4: “An off-scale salary shall be in a multiple of $100 when the scale salaries of the relevant title series are multiples of $100.”
Salary

Per Article 4, A. 3., the Academic Researcher Step Plus Salary Scales are posted at: https://www.ucop.edu/academic-personnel-programs/compensation/index.html

  • Salary Scale Tables 24-B* and 24-B(N)* apply to the Specialist series.
  • Salary Scale Tables 37-B*, 37-B(N)*, 38-B, and 38-B(N) apply to the Project Scientist series.
  • Salary Scale Tables 13-B, 13-B(N), 14-B, and 14-B(N) apply to the Professional Researcher series.

*General Range Adjustments are covered in Article 4 C.; however, the Specialist and Project Scientist salary scales are also subject to equity and smoothing (see Article 4 D.). Equity and smoothing do not apply to Project Scientist BEE scales (38-B and 38-B(N)). Salary scale models for salary scale tables 24B and 37B are available in Appendix A-2 – please note that these are not the official salary scales but they may be used for budget planning. As is practice, the Office of the President is responsible for issuing the official salary scales effective 7/1/2020, 7/1/2021, and 7/1/2022.

Without Salary Appointments

GENERAL RULE FOR ACADEMIC RESEARCHER WHO IS NOT A PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Do not give WOS appointments to Academic Researchers who have been laid off or have not been reappointed due to lapse of funding, even if future funding is expected.

EXCEPTION FOR PIs WITH LAPSE IN FUNDING FOR LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS: For Academic Researchers who are Principal Investigators, if funding lapses but is expected to be restored within four months, you may place their represented title on a “short work break” in UC Path and give them a WOS appointment.

Following is guidance on how to enter into UCPath situations where an academic researcher who is a Principal Investigator (professional researcher or project scientist) lowers their pay to $0 for less than four (4) months, but still conducts work. In these cases, it is expected that additional funding will be forthcoming. In UCPath, it is best if this situation is processed as two separate actions (concurrent appointments):

1. An approved Exempt Hire (“Other – Academic Researcher PI”) in AP Recruit is required for the Non-Represented WOS title. An appointment dossier is not required.

2. Place the original paid appointment on Short Work Break.

  • There is no expectation that the appointee will perform work under the original appointment while on Short Work Break.
  • There is reasonable assurance that the appointee will be returning to work after a period off pay status.
  • No pay is generated.
  • This will preserve the parameters of the appointment (FTE, pay rate, pay group, comp rate code, rank, step, salary, etc.)

3. Add a concurrent WOS appointment.

  • The appointee can perform services/work under the WOS appointment.
  • The appointee has agreed to perform services for no pay under the WOS appointment.

4. When funding returns,

  • Return from Short Work Break to resume pay.
  • End the WOS appointment.

EXCEPTION FOR PIs WITH LAPSE IN FUNDING FOR MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS: For Academic Researchers who are Principal Investigators, if funding lapses with an expectation that it will be restored after more than four months, issue notice of layoff for represented title, place them on a WOS appointment, and end the represented title appointment. Do not create a “short work break”.

Following is guidance on how to enter into UCPath situations where an academic researcher who is a Principal Investigator (professional researcher or project scientist) lowers their pay to $0 for greater than four (4) months, but still conducts work. In these cases, it is expected that additional funding will be forthcoming. In UCPath, it is best if this situation is processed as two separate actions:

1. An approved Exempt Hire (“Other – Academic Researcher PI”) in AP Recruit is required. An appointment review is not required.

2. Add a concurrent WOS appointment.

  • The appointee can perform services/work under the WOS appointment.
  • The appointee has agreed to perform services for no pay under the WOS appointment.
  • The WOS appointment should not be greater than one year but may be renewable.

3. Terminate the original paid appointment.

4. When funding returns,

  • An approved Exempt Hire (“Other – Academic Researcher PI”) in AP Recruit is required. An appointment review is not required.
  • Add the concurrent paid appointment.
  • End the WOS appointment.

TEMPORARY $0.00 PAY FOR OTHER TITLES (E.G., ADJUNCT PROFESSOR): For all other titles (e.g., adjunct professor) that may have gaps in funding, only use Short Work Break if the employee is not conducting any business during the gap. Otherwise, reduce their FTE to 0.0 during the gap.

Training Resources

Following is a presentation used for training on the new RA Unit: Training Presentation (PDF).

Following is a high-level overview of talking points that may be used for meetings with Principal Investigators: Overview (PDF).