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UC graduate student researchers secure increases in employment rates, wages

United Auto Workers strikers protesting at UCLA in November 2022 are pictured. Graduate student researchers will receive raises up to $10,000 after an agreement was reached Monday by UAW and the UC. (Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)

By Matthew Royer

Jan. 29, 2024 4:20 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 30 at 10:01 p.m. 

Academic workers reached an agreement with the UC on Monday to increase wages and employment rates for graduate student researchers.

Affected researchers will receive raises as high as $10,000 per year, according to a United Auto Workers Local 2865 press release from Monday afternoon. 

Since UAW and the UC came to an agreement on their historic contract in December 2022, graduate student researchers – previously under Student Researchers United-UAW before its merger with UAW Local 2865 in February – argued that UC management ignored its contract and manipulated full-time equivalent percentages of student researcher appointments to short them on pay.

Rafael Jaime, president of UAW Local 2865 and a UCLA English doctoral student, said in the press release that as workers head into collective bargaining next January, the agreement represents the power of collective action.

Academic workers spent all year fighting UC for their right to a fair appointment. Now, in spite of intense retaliation and union-busting, we’ve won it,” Jaime said in the press release. “This agreement is more evidence of the power academic workers have when we come together.”

In an emailed statement Tuesday, a UC spokesperson said the University disputes UAW’s characterization of graduate student researcher appointment percentages.

“Since the parties ratified the new Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) collective bargaining agreement in late 2022, we have been working through difficult implementation issues, including how to delineate between a graduate student’s efforts on their academic progress versus the research work they are doing as an employee for the institution,” they said in the emailed statement.

According to UAW’s press release, Monday’s agreement will bring nearly 4,000 graduate student researchers up to the 50% appointments the union expected following its 2022 strike. However, a UC spokesperson said that to resolve disputes on graduate student researcher appointments, the University only agreed to bring some of its appointments up to the 50% mark for this spring term.

The UC spokesperson added in the emailed statement that the University remains committed to following the parties’ agreement and the 2022 contract going forward.

The 2022 contract included a new salary scale, child care compensation and coverage of nonresident supplemental tuition for up to three years for candidates in degree programs, and it matched graduate student researcher trainees and fellows’ salaries to the wage scale.

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Matthew Royer | National news and higher education editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
Royer is the 2023-2024 national news and higher education editor. He is also a Sports staff writer on the men’s soccer and softball beats. He was previously the 2022-2023 city and crime editor and a contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a fourth-year political science student minoring in labor studies from West Hills, California.
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