Major issues surrounding class sizes, workload intensity, undocumented student support and wages were settled between the UC and the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 on June 3, preventing the proposed finals week strike. The agreement is tentative until ratified by the UC Student-Worker Union, which will occur in the coming weeks.
Literature teaching assistant (TA) and UAW Local 2865 chair Jeb Purucker said union members are very excited about the contract, which has been about a year in the making. Purucker said the contract will allow TAs to voice problems that lower the quality of education within various departments through new committees at each UC campus.
“Now we have at least a voice at the table,” Purucker said. “We’re not in a position where we’re imposing strict limits on class sizes, but we have a seat at the table and that’s a start.”
UAW bargaining team member and TA Josh Brahinsky said the decline in the quality of education in the UC system is the union’s primary concern.
“The class size committee is the beginning of a big project of collecting data and building momentum around serious consideration of what makes a good classroom to teach in,” Brahinsky said.
Another program developing from the new contract will guarantee “equal academic and professional development experiences for non-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) qualified undocumented graduate students as compared to their documented peers,” according to a June 4 UAW press release. A committee will be created by fall 2015 to equalize opportunities for undocumented and documented graduate students.
Other points of the contract include a wage increase over the next four years, which, when compounded, will total almost a 17 percent wage raise from this year. Also, before the settlement the childcare subsidy supported students with $900 per quarter for children up to 6 years old. It increased to $1,350 per quarter for children up to 12 years old.
UAW Local 2865 president and UCSC environmental studies graduate student Michelle Glowa said these negotiations will reflect a stronger workplace and better treatment of workers.
Notably absent was a settlement concerning the unfair labor practices from the arrests made during the April strike. Glowa said the “Drop the Charges” campaign, which claims the university unfairly reacted to lawful labor organizing, is a separate process that will go through the labor board.
Executive vice chancellor Alison Galloway sent a university-wide email Wednesday night, expressing her satisfaction that a fair contract was reached and the strike was avoided. Calls to UC media specialists were not returned in time for press.