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Strike Updates and Support

We will update this page to ensure the latest guidance is provided (last updated 1/17/23).

Strike Related Announcements 

The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) members authorized a strike beginning Monday, Nov. 14. Bargaining units consist of Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (ASEs - TAs/Readers/Tutors), and Graduate Student Researchers (including some graduate students on training grants and external fellowships). The parties reached agreements and the strike officially ended on Dec. 23, 2022. 

The following menu contains strike-related guidance and correspondence from leadership. Additional FAQs are answered below.  

For more information regarding the strike, please visit https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/UAW

Dear Colleagues,

UAW, the union representing postdocs, Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs), Teaching Assistants (TAs) and undergraduate academic employees (e.g., Learning Assistants, tutors, readers, graders), has passed a vote to strike. The union has given us notice that they intend to strike beginning November 14 at 8:00 am. Rest assured that the University of California remains in nonstop negotiations with the union trying to head off this action, and we are hopeful the sides can come to an agreement.

Should a strike come to pass, some of these employees may choose to participate until a resolution is reached. With the guidance of Department Chairs, Academic Departments should make plans to ensure instructional continuity. Faculty who employ academic student employees (undergraduates and graduates), GSRs, postdocs, and academic researchers (e.g., project scientists/specialists/researchers) should plan for research continuity, and other units for business continuity.

A union member’s contemplation or participation in their own union’s strike is a protected activity and must be respected. During this delicate time, it is important to refrain from engaging in conversation with union members about any aspect of the strike, including their own intentions. It is also important not to make statements condemning or praising employees’ protected activities, and to refrain from dealing directly, soliciting grievances, or making promises to employees. These guidelines apply to verbal and written communications, including social media.

We understand that not knowing whether a strike can be averted will cause some anxiety and we ask you for your patience, mindfulness and grace. We expect that you will have questions. Please convey them to your Department Chair or supervisor and we will seek guidance from labor relations. Most of all we ask that you be polite and respectful of all members of our community, even if your opinions differ.

The negotiations are dynamic, with new information and new unfounded rumors coming out all the time. Thank you for your patience as the University of California continues to work with the union in seeking to finalize a contract. We regret the potential inconvenience.

Sincerely,

Gregg Camfield

________

Gregg Camfield
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Professor of Literature | School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
University of California, Merced
(209) 228-4439 | provostevc@ucmerced.edu

Possible UAW Strike, Nov. 9, 2022

To: All undergraduate students
Nov. 9, 2022

Dear UC Merced Undergraduates,

As you may have heard, the union representing UC Teaching Assistants (TAs), postdocs, Graduate Student Researchers, and undergraduate academic employees (e.g., Learning Assistants, tutors, readers, graders), has given us notice that they intend to strike beginning Monday, November 14 at 8 a.m. The University of California is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith and reaching full agreements as soon as possible.

As of now, we expect most classes will remain as scheduled, offices will be open, and the campus will provide normal services. Students should plan on attending their classes next week and completing any scheduled assignments or exams.

We know that any chance of disruption to your classes can be stressful, particularly towards the end of the semester. Please know that your success remains our highest priority and we are committed to working towards that end.

We will provide further updates as they become available.

 

Sincerely,

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education

Charles Nies, Ph.D.
|Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

This message was sent by UCOP Provost and Executive Vice President Michael Brown with an update on offers for each UAW bargaining unit (postdoctoral scholars, academic student employees, graduate student researchers, and academic researchers). 

Please read the entire message here

This message by Academic Council Chair Susan Cochran and Vice Chair James Steintrager was sent to all Academic Senate division chairs and UC Faculty on behalf of Vice Provost Douglas Haynes. 

Please read the entire message here

In this letter to the editor at the LA Times, UCOP Provost and Executive Vice President Michael Brown clarified that the University of California has actively been working with UAW to bargain increased salaries.

To: All campus

Nov. 14, 2022

Dear UC Merced students, faculty and staff,

Following up on our communication last week, the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), which represents Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors) and Graduate Student Researchers, has begun a strike as of today, Nov. 14, 2022. UAW members are exercising their collective bargaining rights through campus demonstrations systemwide.

While we do not know the potential duration of the strike, the University of California is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith and reaching full agreements as soon as possible.

As of now, we expect most classes will remain as scheduled, offices will be open, and the campus will provide normal services. Students should plan on attending their classes as usual and completing any scheduled assignments or exams.

We have posted answers to several FAQs and will continue to provide updates on the bargaining process on this website as they occur. For more information about this systemwide strike, please visit UCOP's website.

Sincerely,

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education

Charles Nies, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

To: All faculty

Nov. 18, 2022

 

Dear Faculty,

 

We understand that this is a challenging time in light of the uncertainties associated with the strike. We appreciate all you are doing to continue to support student learning.

 

We know some instructors will want to begin planning for potential course adjustments should the strike persist. Here are a few considerations for your end-of-semester course plans:

  • We anticipate final exams and grade submission will occur according to the usual timeline for the semester for both undergraduate and graduate courses.
  • If instructors have determined that a student’s work is of passing quality but is incomplete, including graduate level independent study and research units, an incomplete (I) grade is an appropriate option. Policy regarding incomplete grades is provided in the University catalog.
  • Instructors may adjust how assignments are structured and how those assignments are graded. If possible, the overall final grade breakdown should stay the same (e.g. if the final is 35% of the grade, it should remain as such, but the instructor might choose to change from an analytical paper to a multiple choice exam).
  • To aid in grading, instructors are encouraged to consider auto-graded online exams and assignments, self-assessment, peer review or team assignments.
  • Clearly communicate to students any adjustments to your syllabus, grading, assignments or final exam.
  • The following resources have tips for teaching large classes that may be helpful as you consider alternatives to grading-intensive assignments and exams:
  • https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-large-classes/
  • https://citt.ufl.edu/resources/assessing-student-learning/designing-effective-peer-and-self-assessment/
  • https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2019.00087/full
  • Help is available for pedagogical or learning technologies by using this link to Request a Consultation.
  • The highest priority should be given to ensuring students have the opportunity to meet the key learning outcomes associated with your course. Although students may have missed some labs, discussions or lectures, the main focus in closing out the semester should be on the major skills and content from your course necessary to successfully progress in their future curriculum.

 

University instruction is already a challenging profession, and current circumstances may exacerbate those challenges. We all hope for a swift settlement of differences, but while we continue to respect the rights of organized labor, we must also continue prioritizing instructional continuity for our students.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

 

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education

 

Hrant P. Hratchian, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education

To: Faculty
Nov. 20, 2022

Colleagues,

Many faculty members have reached out to their chairs, deans, and me about a letter they have received from campus UAW representatives. The letter tells faculty that, by having graduate students continue with their studies, they are breaking the law. It implies that they will be held personally accountable. Many faculty members have expressed fear and want a clear statement of what, in fact, their responsibilities are and whether or not the UAW’s claims are true.

While it is true that the UAW has FILED an unfair labor complaint on this ground, that complaint is filed by the union against the university over our fundamental disagreement about what constitutes employment vs. study. The university’s position is that performance of educational activity for credit is to go forward unimpeded during the strike. A strike, by definition, is withholding PAID labor. This complaint has not been adjudicated, nor have we been enjoined by any court or legitimate authority. We are therefore not only within our rights but also have a responsibility to our students to maintain educational continuity.

Faculty performing their teaching duties as defined by the Academic Personnel Manual and under the direction of the university will be defended by the university. 

Regarding communicating with students about their education, our position remains the same: faculty may communicate with striking students regarding educational activities.

If you need additional guidance regarding communicating with the students about their educational activities, please feel free to reach out to laborrelations@ucmerced.edu.

Sincerely,

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

To: All students

Nov. 20, 2022

 

Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students,

 

As labor contract negotiations with the UAW continue, we write to remind you of expectations regarding undergraduate and graduate student academic progress. Union-represented student employees may choose to participate in a strike and withhold labor; however, educational activity supporting academic progress towards your degree is your responsibility and is separate from employment.

 

Students are encouraged to continue participating in classes and engaging with course assessments. Other degree and program expectations involving non-course related academic progress and milestones, such as comprehensive or qualifying exams, annual committee meetings, thesis proposals, and dissertation defenses should continue as usual.

 

We expect to maintain continuity in learning for all undergraduate and graduate students, including final exams and submission of grades according to the usual campus timelines. Any modifications to assignments, labs, exams, course grading scheme or syllabus will be announced by your course instructors. Student learning and academic progress is an essential priority for the campus and we will be making every effort to minimize disruptions.

 

The latest information and answers to questions can be found at the UC Merced campus FAQ and the University of California information sites.

 

All graduate and undergraduate students are valued members of the UC Merced community. We appreciate your patience and commitment to learning during this time.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education

 

Hrant P. Hratchian, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean for Graduate Education

University of California officials today (Nov. 29) announced tentative agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW) on new five-year contracts for UC Postdoctoral Scholars and Academic Researchers. Once ratified by union members, the new contracts will be effective through September 30, 2027.

The new contracts address key issues including fair compensation, job security and paid family leave.

“Our dedicated colleagues are vital to UC’s research activities and we are very pleased to have reached agreements that honor their many important contributions,” said Letitia Silas, executive director of systemwide labor relations. “These agreements also uphold our tradition of supporting these employees with compensation and benefits packages that are among the best in the country.”

Highlights of the agreements include:

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Compensation:
    • Implementation of a new salary scale by April 1, 2023, which will result in average salary increases of 8 percent for all Postdocs;
    • Annual pay increases each October, with an increase of approximately 7.5 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent in each of the remaining years;
    • Annual experience-based pay increases of 3.7 percent for eligible Postdocs.
  • Child care:
    • Up to $2500 annual reimbursement for child care expenses with flexibility to use funds for child care expenses related to professional travel;
    • Annual $100 increases in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
  • Appointments: Two-year initial appointments (up from one year) followed by one-year reappointments.
  • Paid Family Leave: Effective January 1, 2023, a new special Postdoc Paid Leave program of 8 weeks of 100% paid family leave for all Postdocs.
  • Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and a dispute resolution process.
  • Transit:
    • Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;
    • UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);
    • Formation of a joint labor management committee to explore additional measures.

Academic Researchers

  • Compensation: Pay increases of 4.5 percent in the first year, 3.5 percent in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years; and 4 percent in the 5th year.
  • Appointments: All reappointments no longer have exceptions for less than minimum length.
  • Paid leave:
    • Effective January 1, 2023, 8 weeks 100% pay for family care and bonding for eligible Academic Researchers;
    • Increased bereavement leave.
  • Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and provide a dispute resolution process.
  • Transit:
    • Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;
    • UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);
    • Formation of a joint UC-UAW committee to explore additional measures.

In the last year, UC has settled contracts with unions representing UC lecturers, nurses, police and clerical and other administrative staff. These agreements were the result of both sides working collaboratively to find solutions and demonstrating flexibility and a genuine willingness to compromise at the bargaining table. UC has approached the negotiations with UAW in the same fashion.

Negotiations for Postdoctoral Scholars began in July 2021 and in May 2022 for Academic Researchers.

The UAW also represents UC Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors) and Graduate Student Researchers, and contract negotiations for those groups are ongoing. Information on current University proposals for these groups is available here.

UPS Delivery Disruption

Due to the UAW strike, there is a possibility for disruption of UPS deliveries to UC Merced. UCOP Strategic Sourcing Center of Excellence has reached out to our Systemwide Life Sciences vendors and requested packages to be temporarily delivered using FedEx or another non-union courier service for time-sensitive and cold chain deliveries.

If deliveries are in progress, the Logistics team has been working with UPS on a daily basis and UPS has diverted shipments to the Castle facility to be sorted and chemicals set aside for a licensed transport company to deliver to campus.

This may cause a few days delay in getting the chemical orders to your labs due to the need to move these materials via a carrier that is licensed to transport chemical products.

We look forward to a speedy and satisfactory resolution to the labor dispute. If you have any questions, concerns, or solutions to minimize the impact of delayed deliveries, please respond to receiving@ucmerced.edu.

To view the letter sent systemwide on Nov. 30 regarding Rights and Responsibilities of Senate Faculty in Relation to the UAW Strike and Rights and Responsibilities of Senate Faculty in Maintaining Academic Standards for Student Academic Performance and Progress, please click here.

Dear Faculty,

 

We want to provide a brief update on grade submission deadlines for the semester.

 

The campus will be following the regular grade submission deadline for Fall 2022 (Tuesday, 12/20 at noon). However, we realize some instructors may need additional time due to TA participation in the strike. If you would like to request a little extra time to complete your fall grades, please utilize this link: https://registrar.ucmerced.edu/form/grade-deadline-extension-request-form . Completion of this brief webform allows the Registrar’s Office to plan appropriately for between term logistics work and informs various academic progress reviews.

 

Note that we have opted to extend the grade deadline for individual instructors rather than shift the entire timeline for between semester academic records work. Of the 895 lecture courses for Fall 2022, 24% of classes have attached TA-led discussions or labs (though additional courses utilize readers).

 

Thanks for your help in supporting our end-of-term academic assessments in these challenging circumstances.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

 

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean, Undergraduate Education

 

Erin Webb

University Registrar

To: All Campus

Dec. 5, 2022

 

Dear University Community:

 

As the semester comes to a close and after months of earnest good faith negotiations, regretfully, we still find ourselves in the midst of the UAW strike. Acknowledging the uncertainty and challenges surrounding the strike, we remain hopeful that a resolution will be reached in negotiations being handled by the University of California, Office of the President.

 

While negotiations continue, UC Merced is committed to continuing the mission of the university and ensuring the implementation of strategies to assist in protecting our students and their academic standing. The university also respects the protected activities of our employees. Our ability to attract and enroll top talent is core to UC’s teaching and research missions.

 

As of now, we expect most classes to remain as scheduled through the end of the semester, offices will be open, and the campus will provide normal services until winter curtailment. Students should continue attending their classes as usual and completing any scheduled assignments or exams. Faculty, please refer to the communications previously sent regarding grading and grade submissions for the semester. Updates related to the strike can be found on the university’s website.

 

We will continue to seek ways to reduce anxiety and stress related to the strike.

 

Thank you all for your continued commitment to the university’s mission, vision, and values. A special thank you to our faculty and academic advisors for your dedication to assisting our students – you are vital not only to their success, but also to the success of the university.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

To: All campus

Dec. 7, 2022

 

To the Campus Community:

 

The University of California released information this afternoon with more details regarding the continued negotiations with UAW. Below is an excerpt from the communication, along with a link to the full communication with comprehensive charts and bulleted negotiation points explaining the University's current negotiation offer.

****

Bargaining Update for ASEs and GSRs 1

 

As you know, UC is currently in contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) on new contracts for UC Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) and Academic Student Employees (ASEs). The University has made what it believes are very generous offers — offers that not only recognize the vital role you and your colleagues play at UC but also respond to union and bargaining unit members’ priorities, such as wages, transportation, respectful work environment, and support for families. It is our goal to get to resolution as quickly as possible to ensure that you and your colleagues are supported in your professional and academic pursuits.

 

UC recently presented the UAW with a comprehensive package proposal to reach a Tentative Agreement and complete bargaining, and it is critically important that you know the offer on the table.

 

UC’s wage proposals effectively provide that by Oct. 1, 2024, total compensation (base salary, campus fees, and childcare reimbursement) — for 50%-time employment — would range from $46,757 to $74,798 (depending on the bargaining unit title and campus), not including the value of paid leaves, transit benefits, and health benefits. This includes UC covering 100% of campus fees for eligible ASEs/GSRs and amounts to $13,707 to $22,248, depending on the campus.

 

****

Click here to read the full communication with complete details of the University negotiation offer.

The following message was provided by University of California's Office of the President.

To: All campus
Dec.9, 2022

After months of negotiations, and seven formal requests by the University of California to engage a private mediator, the University is pleased to announce that the United Auto Workers (UAW) agreed today (Dec. 9) to enter private mediation with the University. This joint move to mediation is designed to assist the two parties in overcoming recent negotiation gridlock.

“The University is pleased that the UAW has agreed to neutral private mediation so that we may resolve our differences and end the strike that has been impacting our students, faculty, and staff,” said Letitia Silas, executive director of systemwide labor relations. “We remain committed to securing a fair and reasonable contract with the union that honors the hard work of our valued graduate student employees. With the help of a neutral mediator, we hope to secure that agreement quickly.”

Since spring of 2022, the University and the United Auto Workers have held more than 60 bargaining sessions, including nearly daily formal and informal sessions since the strike began on Nov. 14.

The University recently offered the UAW generous proposals that would raise salaries for all graduate student employees by 12.5 to 48.4 percent over the course of the next three years. The majority of these employees would receive an average three-year salary increase of 26 percent, not including annual experience-based increases. The offers also include increased child care reimbursements, campus fee remissions, and other benefits. Student employees with 25 percent or greater employment with the University already receive full coverage of tuition, student services fees, and health care premiums. The proposals offered by the University to the UAW would place UC graduate student employees squarely among or above the most highly compensated student employees at any public research university in the nation.

A timeline for mediation will be set soon. During that time, both parties will be prohibited from speaking publicly about the negotiations. For additional details on the University’s most recent proposal, including compensation, please visit our website here.

To: All undergraduate students

Dec. 11, 2022

 

Dear UC Merced Students,

 

Congratulations on reaching the end of the semester! We want to share a couple quick reminders related as we support you during the strike activity occurring across the UC.

 

  • Undergraduate students have the option of choosing to switch a class to Pass / No Pass grading. You must submit such a request no later than Friday Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. Please consult with your advisor, as decisions are irreversible.
  • Undergraduate students may have some courses for which you receive a “No Report” or NR grade. This is a placeholder grade until the instructor is able to complete and submit the grades. We will be endeavoring to resolve NR grades as quickly as possible.
  • In the event that a final grade for a course is not recorded, we are developing contingency plans to ensure that this would not impact your financial aid, athletic eligibility, prerequisite requirements, and/or the completion of your degree.

 

If you have further questions regarding your non-reported or un-reported grades, please contact the Students First Center.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies

 

Charles Nies, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 12, 2022

University of California Office of the President

UCOP Media Relations: media@ucop.edu

 

UC postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers approve five-year contracts

 

The University of California today (Dec. 12) issued a statement about the ratification of the new contracts for Postdoctoral Scholars and Academic Researchers. The new five-year contracts include multiyear pay increases, transit benefits, improved job security for postdocs and enhanced paid family leave. The University reached an agreement with both groups in late November, and the approved contracts will be effective through September 30, 2027. With these contract ratifications, we look forward to these academic employees returning to work from the strike.

 

“Our dedicated postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers are vital to the University’s research activities, and we are very pleased they have approved these contracts,” said Letitia Silas, the University’s executive director of systemwide labor relations. “These agreements honor our employees’ important contributions and uphold the University’s longstanding practice of providing these employees with some of the best compensation and benefits packages in the country.”

 

Highlights of the agreements include:

 

Postdoctoral Scholars

· Compensation:

o Implementation of a new salary scale by April 1, 2023, which will result in average salary increases of 8 percent for all Postdoctoral Scholars who are on the salary scale;

o Annual pay increases each October, with an increase of approximately 7.5 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent in each of the remaining years;

o Annual experience-based pay increases of 3.7 percent for eligible Postdoctoral Scholars.

· Child care:

o Up to $2,500 in annual reimbursement for child care expenses with flexibility to use funds for child care expenses related to professional travel;

o Annual $100 increases in child care reimbursements in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

· Appointments: Two-year initial appointments (up from one year) followed by one-year reappointments.

· Paid Family Leave: Effective January 1, 2023, a new special Postdoctoral Paid Leave program of 8 weeks with 100 percent paid family leave for all Postdoctoral Scholars.

· Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and a dispute resolution process.

· Transit:

o Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;

o UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);

o Formation of a joint labor-management committee to explore additional measures.

 

Academic Researchers

· Compensation: Pay increases of 4.5 percent in the first year, 3.5 percent in the second, third and fourth years; and 4 percent in the fifth year.

· Appointments: All reappointments no longer have exceptions for less than minimum length.

· Paid leave:

o Effective January 1, 2023, 8 weeks with 100 percent pay for family care and bonding for eligible Academic Researchers;

o Increased bereavement leave.

· Respectful work environment: New contract provision to address abusive conduct and provide a dispute resolution process.

· Transit:

o Access to a pre-tax program to pay for transit costs and an e-bike purchase discount program;

o UC agrees to attempt to negotiate reduced-fee or no-fee access to regional transit system(s);

o Formation of a joint UC-UAW committee to explore additional measures.

 

In the last year, the University of California has also settled contracts with unions representing its lecturers, nurses, police officers and clerical and other administrative staff. These agreements were the result of both sides working collaboratively to find solutions and demonstrating flexibility and a genuine willingness to compromise at the bargaining table. UC has approached its negotiations with UAW in the same fashion.

 

The UAW also represents UC Academic Student Employees (which includes teaching assistants/readers/tutors) and Graduate Student Researchers. Contract negotiations for those bargaining units are ongoing. On Dec. 9, the UC and UAW agreed to engage a third-party mediator, Sacramento Mayor and former California Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, to facilitate discussions between them and to help resolve outstanding issues and reach agreements on the contracts for those units. Information about the status of those negotiations and the University’s latest proposals for these groups is available here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 12, 2022

University of California Office of the President

UCOP Media Relations: media@ucop.edu

 

University of California welcomes selection of Darrell Steinberg as mediator in negotiations with United Auto Workers

 

The University of California today (Dec. 12) welcomed Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s selection as a mediator in the ongoing negotiations between the University of California and the United Auto Workers (UAW). Steinberg, the former Senate Pro Tem and current Mayor of Sacramento, was asked to serve in the role by mutual agreement between the University and the union. The two parties jointly agreed to Steinberg’s selection with the hope of overcoming recent negotiation gridlock and securing a fair and reasonable contract for the University’s Graduate Student Researchers and Academic Student Employees.

 

“Darrell Steinberg has developed a reputation as a fair-minded public servant and skilled negotiator who brings people together. I believe Mayor Steinberg is uniquely positioned to help facilitate a fair and reasonable contract that allows us to support our students as they work towards their degrees,” said Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California. “Our faculty, students, and staff have shouldered the burden of a strike for far too long. We all know the tremendous impact our graduate student employees make, and it is my hope that with the mayor’s help we can quickly secure a fair deal that honors those contributions.”

 

Details related to the mediation schedule are still being agreed upon at this time.

 

“The University of California is a critical institution that educates the next generation of leaders and helps drive the state’s economy. We must ensure that the fruits of the University’s impact are being fairly distributed to everyone involved in its mission,” said Mayor Steinberg. “It is my hope that both parties will enter this mediation with an open mind, a spirit of goodwill, and a focus on compromise. I look forward to working with the parties to secure a contract.”

 

About Mayor Steinberg:

 

Darrell Steinberg is the current Mayor of the City of Sacramento. First elected as Sacramento’s mayor in 2016, he has guided the city through an unprecedented pandemic and a long overdue reckoning around race and equity. A skilled mediator, Mayor Steinberg negotiated the legal settlements that paved the way for the construction of UC Davis’ innovation campus, Aggie Square, which will bring thousands of new jobs to Sacramento while also investing millions in surrounding neighborhoods to prevent displacement of current residents.

 

Prior to becoming Mayor, Steinberg served 14 years in the state Legislature, and became the first Sacramentan to serve as President of the Senate in over 125 years. As Senate Pro Tem, he worked with two Governors and multiple legislative leaders to help lead the state through its worst economic crisis in decades. His bipartisan work helped end the state budget crisis and earned him and three other Legislative leaders the 2010 John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award, one of the highest political honors in the country.

 

Mayor Steinberg left the Legislature in 2014 due to term limits and subsequently founded the independent Steinberg Institute, which today has become the leading voice on mental health policy and legislation in California. Steinberg is a graduate of UCLA and UC Davis Law School.

TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY

After months of negotiations, a strike, and disruptions on our campuses, I am pleased to inform you that UC has reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) regarding the Graduate Student Researchers (GSR) and Academic Student Employees (ASE) contracts. Union members are expected to vote on the tentative agreements in the coming days.

With these agreements, student employees are expected to cease any picketing.

The tentative agreements include new minimum salary scales for Academic Student Employees, including Teaching Assistants, and Graduate Student Researchers, as well as multiyear pay increases, paid dependent access to university health care and enhanced paid family leave. Additional information about the agreements is available here.

We believe these agreements honor the vital contributions our ASEs and GSRs make to UC’s teaching and research activities and uphold UC’s tradition of supporting them with compensation and benefits packages that are among the best in the country. The agreements also help ensure that UC continues to be extremely competitive as a top research institution.

Following the strike, we will be working to restore healthy relationships across the system including healthy labor-management relations. On behalf of everyone at the Office of the President who has been involved with these negotiations, I want to thank all members of the University community for their patience and commitment during this challenging period. I also want to thank our campus labor relations and academic personnel colleagues for their partnership throughout the negotiations.

Respectfully,

Letitia Silas

Executive Director Systemwide Labor Relations

 

Colleagues,

If you have grants or contracts supporting any employees who have been on strike for any amount of time this semester, please read the following excerpt from guidance we received from UCOP yesterday: 

1. Effort Reporting

The University can only charge wages to a federal award under 2 C.F.R. 200 if the federal

awarding agency receives commensurate benefits from the wages charged.1 Hence,

campuses need to take steps now to ensure that only wages (and associated fringe

benefits), tuition, and fees for work performed by Graduate Student Researchers or faculty

in support of a grant are charged to that grant, and that either effort reports or payroll

certifications (as applicable to each campus) are accurate. If campuses are unsure whether

work was performed on a grant by a Graduate Student Researcher or faculty member, they

should make or move charges (wages, tuition, and fees) for that work on an unrestricted

account until the PI (or authorized person) can verify the underlying work and confirm

accurate effort reports or accurately certify payroll. PIs who have first-hand knowledge

that work was performed on the grant do not need to move those charges off the grant.

Shifting funds does not impact pay; it only changes what university account is charged for

the expense.

Campuses are responsible for identifying unrestricted accounts. For example, campuses

could identify a university-level unrestricted account for this purpose. As appropriate,

charges can be shifted back to the grant once additional information is obtained regarding

the performance of work or, if allowed, once the work is made up.

While this guidance applies to Federal grants and contracts, we expect similar guidance regarding state-funded research. 

Our Finance office has created a process to exclude expenditures related to the salaries and wages of individual researchers employed in the bargaining units impacted by the strike from Federal and State grants. Expenditures charged against these grants since the beginning of the strike period (November 14th, 2022) will not be billed to any of our sponsor agencies unless, at a later time, those expenditures are found to be valid. UC Merced will move these expenditures to unrestricted funds and the appropriate related expense accounts to cover the pay of these researchers. We do not yet know the mechanisms the UC will use to withhold pay (or not). We are still awaiting guidance from UCOP about the possibility of making up work that was missed during the strike and how that might be reported. What we do know is that federal law requires you to report effort accurately.  At this point, we ask you to do no more than keep the best records you can about the work your employees have done.

We will provide further guidance as it becomes available. 

The attached FAQs document was also distributed.

To: All undergraduate students

Dec. 21, 2022

Dear UC Merced Students, 

 

Your Fall 2022 grades have now posted! As a reminder, students may have some courses that show a “No Report” or NR grade. This is a placeholder grade until the instructor is able to complete and submit the grades. We will be endeavoring to resolve NR grades as quickly as possible and you should see those NR grades replaced in the coming weeks. The NR grade will not prevent course registration changes you need to make for Spring 2023. Thanks for your patience!

 

We want to congratulate you on your accomplishments and persistence this semester. We hope you have a restful and enjoyable winter break and look forward to welcoming you back for a terrific Spring 2023 semester!

 

Sincerely,

 

Sarah Frey, Ph.D.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies

 

Charles Nies, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

 

We are pleased to announce that graduate student researchers and academic student workers at the University of California voted this week to approve new contracts, ending their six-week strike today (Dec. 23). Under the terms of the new contracts, these workers will be among the best supported in public higher education in the country. Click here to read the full press release and learn more about the terms of the contracts.

 

University of California graduate student workers end strike, ratify three-year contracts

We are pleased to announce that graduate student researchers and academic student workers at the University of California voted this week to approve new contracts, ending their six-week strike today (Dec. 23). Under the terms of the new contracts, these workers will be among the best supported in public higher education in the country.

“The University of California welcomes the ratification of these agreements with our valued graduate student employees. The University believed that the assistance of a third-party mediator would help the parties reach an agreement, which is why we are so grateful that the union accepted our invitation to mediation and partnered with us in selecting Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to serve as the mediator,” said Letitia Silas, executive director of systemwide labor relations. “As a result of this collaboration, the parties were ultimately able to reach tentative agreements on the contracts as a whole in just a few days following months of negotiations. The University of California has negotiated several fair labor agreements over the last year with our represented employees. Today’s ratification demonstrates yet 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 new contracts go into effect immediately and will be in place through May 31, 2025. The University reached tentative agreements with both bargaining units on Dec. 16, and members voted throughout the past week to ratify the contracts.

Historically, the University has provided graduate student support packages that cover in-state tuition, provide annual stipends, and health benefits. Each University-provided support package has traditionally comprised a combination of wages for graduate students appointed as Academic Student Employees (ASEs) or Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs), as well as direct support from fellowships, training grants, and other sources. In addition, these special positions also provide in-classroom or in-lab experience to ASEs and GSRs, making them more competitive in the job market.

In response to the union’s proposals and following the University’s evaluation of other top research institutions across the country, UC has restructured and enhanced its support packages to better align with similarly placed institutions of higher education. These enhancements reflect the important role that these student employees play and the University’s dedication to support its graduate students as they obtain their masters and doctoral degrees.

Click here to view the full update with highlights of the agreement.

 

Click here to view the Pay Guidance FAQs. Attestation forms to indicate strike participation can be found here.

 

CONFIRMATION OF LABOR WITHELD DURING UAW STRIKE

The University respects its employees’ right to strike. The University has a concurrent responsibility as a public employer to align compensation with work effort provided to the institution, consistent with the award of federal grant funds and the allocation of State funds committed to the University as a public trust. These obligations are set forth in Uniform Guidance, 2 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 200, Art. IX, Sec. 9 of the California Constitution, and Regents Policy 7303: Policy on the Services Obligations and Leaves of Absence.

You are a member of a bargaining unit that has engaged in a strike at the University. Therefore, it is necessary that you confirm which days or hours, if any, that you withheld your labor during the work stoppage starting on November 14, 2022, through December 23, 2022 (or December 9th in the case of Academic Researcher and Postdoc units), or the end of your appointment, whichever occurred first. This information will be used solely to record leave without pay for those days or times that you withheld labor over the course of the work stoppage, to ensure appropriate payroll processing, and ensure appropriate effort reporting in connection with federal grants. Please access the form here and send to UC Merced Labor Relations at laborrelations@ucmerced.edu by January 23, 2023. Information on this form will be shared with Principal Investigators (PIs) and instructors of record for courses for payroll purposes and effort reporting as required by federal regulations in connection with federal grants. You can print, sign, and drop this form off with your department or email it to your department administrator with an electronic signature inserted below.

Here's a link to our frequently asked questions.

Thank you,

UC Merced Labor Relations

Dear Colleague,

As I’m sure you know, the University of California Office of the President has reached agreements with the UAW on contracts with the Academic Researchers, Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Student Employees, and Graduate Student Researchers. Regardless of your personal positions regarding the strike, you collectively have supported all of our students admirably, and I thank you for your heroic efforts in the face of yet another disruption of our teaching, research, and service.

We are now in the unpleasant situation of being required to manage the immediate aftermath of the strike. The University of California is legally required to align compensation with work effort provided to the institution, consistent with the award of federal grant funds and the allocation of State funds committed to the University as a public trust. These obligations are set forth in Uniform Guidance, 2 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 200, Art. IX, Sec. 9 of the California Constitution, and Regents Policy 7303: Policy on the Services Obligations and Leaves of Absence.

As you know, a strike is a work stoppage, meaning an employee has decided to stop performing their job duties in support of a particular cause or issue. Because the employee is not performing their job duties, they are not eligible for wages that are paid in exchange for work performed.

Some Senate faculty members exercised their legal right to participate in the strike. However, in accordance with legal requirements entailed in the University’s commitment to the responsible management of both state and federal public funds, if you decided to withhold your labor, your wages must be aligned with the labor withheld. Accordingly, if you did not perform your work or job duties that you were scheduled/required to perform between November 14, 2022, through December 23, 2022, please download the attestation form here and submit it to academicpersonnel@ucmerced.edu. To be clear, you need to submit this form only if you withheld labor. If you have nothing to report, please ignore this request.

The deadline to submit the completed attestation form is January 23, 2023. This information will be used to verify pay eligibility and ensure appropriate payroll processing.

I’m sure this request will raise many questions, in particular questions about what constitutes “withholding of labor.” The Office of the President has prepared a FAQ sheet, which I attach to this letter and which is available here. The definitions are quite specific and do not pertain to expressions of support, including picketing, but only to scheduled, required work. If the FAQs do not satisfactorily answer your questions, please contact either me or the interim Vice Provost for Academic Personnel, Thomas Hansford.

I’m sorry to push this out to you so late and with such a short turn-around time, but it was the subject of intense, protracted negotiation at the Office of the President with a wide range of stakeholders. Thank you again, for your dedication to our students, and wishing for a calm semester,

Sincerely,

Gregg Camfield

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

General Guidance

Guidelines for Supervisors/Managers (including principal investigators) Permissible Actions

  • Do take lawful steps to ensure safety and security at University campuses and properties.  Report misconduct or threats to safety and security.
  • Do take lawful steps to ensure unobstructed entrances and exits.
  • Do take lawful steps to ensure continuity of operations.  Do plan for potential disruption of ongoing research as a result of a strike.  Plans for the preservation of experimental materials and the like must be carefully prepared.
  • Do refer employees to their union if they have questions regarding union membership, union activities, and potential strike activity.
  • Do plan for supporting student academic progress, including alternate methods of instructional delivery and educational continuity.
  • Do stay in close contact with your local Labor Relations and Academic Personnel offices and promptly report threats to safety and security, violence, or other misconduct or dangerous circumstances.

Impermissible Actions to Avoid

  • Do not photograph, video, or generally “monitor” employees striking activity for reasons unrelated to ensuring safety, security, and access.  This includes refraining from monitoring or perusing employees’ social media.
  • Do not survey or communicate with employees, including Senate Faculty, Unit 18 faculty, UAW unit members, and other employees, regarding their intention to participate in or support a strike. Such communication can be found to violate employee rights.
  • Do not make statements to employees intended to elicit a response concerning their union activity or union sympathies.
  • Avoid tweets and comments on social media (encouraging or discouraging employees’ protected activities, including strike activity) which purport to be official statements on behalf of the University.
  • Do not ask employees about their protected activities, their union sympathies nor the protected activities/union sympathies of others.  Protected activity includes strikes and protests concerning terms and conditions of employment or bargaining.
  • Do not discipline, discharge, reprimand, or otherwise take adverse action against employees for protected activity, including lawful strike activity.
  • Do not deal directly, solicit grievances, or make promises to employees, including Senate and Unit 18 faculty and student employees, based on their participation/non-participation in, or support/non-support, for a strike.

No.  We value our employees and fully respect represented employees’ right to engage in protected activity, including a lawful strike.  However, since striking employees are, by definition, not working, they are not eligible to receive their regular pay.  Additionally, federal guidelines indicate that we are not able to pay employees on federal grants if they are not working.  Employees who wish to receive their regular pay may perform their work during this time.

No. It is not appropriate to ask anyone if they will be participating.  Commenting on participation in the strike can be construed as interference or retaliation.  If you have specific performance or personnel concerns, please contact the Academic Personnel Office. 

We are unable to predict the duration of the work stoppage.  The University of California will continue to negotiate with the UAWs leadership in good faith to reach an agreement on contract terms, and we will provide updates and additional guidance as needed.

Academic Student Employees, Graduate Student Researchers, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Academic Researchers are valued members of the UC Merced community, and we look forward to reaching an agreement.  We appreciate everyone's commitment to ensure that we can continue to advance our critical teaching and research missions during this challenging time.

Workers in four bargaining units represented by the UAW:

  1. Academic Student Employees (ASEs) (Teaching Assistants (TAs)/Associates, Readers, Tutors);
  2. Postdoctoral Scholars;
  3. Academic Researchers (Specialists, Project Scientists, Professional Researchers); and
  4. Graduate Student Researchers (including some on training grants and external fellowships).

No.  Do not discuss the potential strike action or solicit any individual worker’s intention.

The PI can ask the worker if they are planning on participating in the conference, for whatever reason, not necessarily regarding the strike.  If they indicate they will not, then the PI can consider inviting someone else who will attend and benefit from the learning opportunity, and allocating the resources (travel/conference fees) to the use as they were intended.

Consider the possibility that progress on research projects may be delayed.  If you have questions about progress on research projects, contact the Office of Research and Economic Development.

There are ongoing discussions (including UC Office of the President Labor Relations and UC Path colleagues) about how this can be accomplished within current timekeeping and payroll systems.  There are many ways in which pay to the affected folks are handled at different campuses, so there will not be a one size fits all solution.  As solutions are reached we will be communicating those appropriately. 

You may participate in the strike without any impact to your visa or immigration status so long as you are participating lawfully and peacefully. 

 

If you are a faculty member, click here to download the attestation form.

If you are a UAW member, click here to download the attestation form.

 

Instructional Impacts

We anticipate a period of unknown duration where some of these workers will not fulfill their job duties.  These duties include but are not limited to: teaching lectures, labs, and discussion sections; grading submitted work and entering/maintaining grades; tutoring; supplemental instruction; research; outreach; program administration; and other duties assigned.

Faculty have the right under HEERA to engage in concerted activity, including respecting the UAW picket line.  Faculty also have an obligation under the APM to deliver the curriculum.  Given that, faculty should exercise discretion about managing their courses and making changes necessitated by circumstances, doing their best to minimize the impact on enrolled students. 

Chairs are responsible for working with college/school leadership and educators to ensure instructional and research continuity.  Educators are expected to maintain instructional activities for all students.  Chairs will work with instructors who need support or guidance in implementing continuity plans.

If you currently supervise one or more ASEs (TAs/Readers/Tutors) in an instructional setting, please plan ahead for the possibility of a strike.  Students will expect you to be the authority on how the course will proceed.  The specific actions you take will depend on different circumstances, but may include the following:

  • Notify your students of the possibility of a strike, how they could be impacted, and steps you will take in the event of a strike.  Instruction should not be cancelled because of the strike.
  • Maintain clear and frequent communication with your students.  Remind them that you will be the main point of contact during the strike, and ensure they know how to reach you.
  • Focus on maintaining course continuity.  Among these priorities should be preserving each student’s access to the course and materials.
  • Identify any aspects of the course that may be postponed, abbreviated, or omitted, and revise your lesson planning and grading rubric accordingly.  Consider engaging your students in making these revisions and be transparent and reasonable with your new expectations.
  • Examine the work currently being done by each ASE to understand its stage, how it might be disrupted, and the specific steps you can take to mitigate disruption if it happens.
  • Ensure you have access to ASE lesson plans, student grades, graded materials, and submitted work that has not yet been graded.
  • If grading will be delayed, ask students to maintain copies of submitted work and post timely sample solutions for them to review.
  • Within the limits of the ASE appointment letters, consider reassigning work among ASEs if some choose to work during the strike while others do not. 
  1. Ensure that you have up-to-date access to all course materials and grade data for your courses in Canvas.
  2. Develop or modify existing research continuity plans to cover labs, including ensuring lab safety and securing and maintaining research materials and data.  Be prepared to implement continuity plans as needed.

Graduate instruction should continue.  Graduate students are students regardless of their employment status with the university and should continue to participate in university activities during the strike.  Graduate classes and the evaluation of graduate student academic progress for grades and credit should continue as normal.

Students enrolled in courses, independent study or otherwise, should continue to do the activities associated with those courses and be graded in response to their academic progress regardless of employment or strike participation.  Faculty may still communicate with striking students regarding academic activities.

The research work performed by graduate students employed as GSRs typically has a lot of overlap with the work they need to perform to receive a satisfactory grade in their research units.  A GSR not engaging in research work because of the strike will likely not make academic progress in their units (e.g., 295-299) during that time.  However, since we are roughly midway through the semester it would stand to reason that if performance in these units has been satisfactory so far, inactivity for a few days should not drastically affect that assessment.

Assessment and grading is a faculty prerogative.  The assessment of student performance in any course can only be based on academic criteria that are consistently applied to all students.

Potentially, yes, within limits.  TA duties are outlined in the work agreements completed and signed by departments/faculty and TAs at the beginning of the semester.  Duties must fall within the established work agreements.  Faculty must also be cognizant of the number of hours of the TA appointment and cannot assign work that would exceed the appointment hours outlined in the agreements.  Faculty must also honor TAs’ right to strike and cannot be perceived as exerting any pressure on TAs with respect to the strike.

Be consistent with what you allow to be posted to Canvas.  If you have not allowed non-academic related postings, then you can be clear that information about the strike cannot be posted.