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Student Researchers United merges with United Auto Workers Local 2865

Pictured is a United Auto Workers union strike. Student Researchers United and UAW Local 2865 announced via Twitter on Monday that they would merge to be known only as UAW Local 2865, representing a combined 36,000 graduate student employees at the UC. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Constanza Montemayor

Feb. 28, 2023 10:43 p.m.

Student Researchers United and United Auto Workers Local 2865, unions representing graduate student researchers and academic student employees, respectively, merged to become known solely as UAW Local 2865, it announced Monday.

The announcement, made via Twitter, said UAW Local 2865 will now be the singular union representing 36,000 University of California academic student workers.

Nick Geiser, a doctoral student in physics and member of SRU’s bargaining team, said the merger has been expected for a long time. SRU was originally formed in 2020, after the formation of UAW Local 2865, because graduate student researchers were not originally considered employees of the University until UAW Local 2865 lobbied for the change in 2017, Geiser added.

Geiser said most SRU members planned to eventually join UAW Local 2865 because job titles often change or overlap over time while working as an academic student employee or graduate student researcher. The graduate students working in each department are often a mix of academic student employees and graduate student researchers as well, he said.

“I was a TA for three years, and for the last three years, I’ve been a grad student researcher,” Geiser said. “So that’s pretty common – to spend half your working life as a grad student and then to change job titles and (spend) half in the grad student or researcher job titles.”

The formal process for merging began in January, with votes taken by the joint council of UAW Local 2865 and the SRU bargaining team to recommend the union, Geiser added. Both votes were overwhelmingly in favor, he said.

Geiser also said union members have expressed satisfaction to now belong to a union that will not change with their job title, adding that they are excited to now have the combined strength and leverage of both unions’ workers in one.

The merger will also simplify bargaining with the University, Geiser said, as now many of the same demands will not have to be won twice.

“I am so happy and proud of the work that my coworkers and I have done over the last few years, and I know that my part in it was only one piece of a multidecade history of student worker organizing at the UC,” Geiser said.

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Constanza Montemayor | News senior staff
Montemayor is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 News editor, the 2021-2022 features and student life editor, a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
Montemayor is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 News editor, the 2021-2022 features and student life editor, a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a fourth-year global studies student at UCLA.
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