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University of California fully recognizes student researchers union

Student Researchers United-United Auto Workers held rallies across all University of California campuses during the fall quarter. (Ariana Fadel/Daily Bruin staff)

By Christine Tran

Jan. 9, 2022 6:45 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to the Student Researchers United-United Auto Workers as Students Researchers United-United Auto Workers.

This post was updated Jan. 18 at 7:46 p.m.

The University of California officially recognized the student researchers union in its entirety in December.

Student Researchers United-United Auto Workers, a union that represents more than 17,000 UC student researchers, announced in a press release that the University agreed to recognize a union including student researchers, trainees and fellows Dec. 8. According to the press release, SRU-UAW is the largest unit of student employees in U.S. history and the largest new bargaining unit in 2021.

“Today, after months of delay, the University did the right thing,” said Aarthi Sekar, a UC Davis integrative genetics and genomics graduate student, in the press release. “We want to do our work in an environment that is fair and equitable, where we are protected from the frequent discrimination and harassment we face, and where we are able to contribute on our merits. Today we are one step closer to that goal.”

SRU-UAW initially filed authorization cards with the California Public Employment Relations Board and was verified as a union in May. However, in September, the UC did not recognize the union, seeking to instead exclude trainees and fellows from being included in the bargaining unit. In November, the student researchers union held a strike authorization vote, with 10,622 members voting yes to authorize a strike if needed.

Ryan King, a UC Office of the President spokesperson, said the UC supported the graduate student researchers’ right to unionize but further discussion was needed to define who was considered a student employee.

“The agreement now clarifies the definition of graduate student employee, consistent with the definition of employee as defined by the California Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act,” King said. “The University appreciates UAW’s partnership as we worked through the process. We look forward to beginning good-faith negotiations on a multiyear collective bargaining agreement in the months ahead.”

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Christine Tran | National news and higher education editor
Tran is the 2021-2022 national news and higher education editor in addition to being a contributor for Enterprise. She is also a fourth-year political science student at UCLA.
Tran is the 2021-2022 national news and higher education editor in addition to being a contributor for Enterprise. She is also a fourth-year political science student at UCLA.
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