SAN FRANCISCO -- Postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers were back at work Monday at all 10 of the University of California system’s campuses after ratifying a labor agreement, but thousands of other graduate students remain on strike.
The five-year agreement ratified Friday provides pay hikes of up to 20%, increased family leave, childcare subsidies and lengthened appointments to ensure job security, according to a statement from United Auto Workers Local 5810.
The postdoctoral employees and academic researchers make up about 12,000 of the 48,000 union members who on Nov. 14 walked off the job and onto picket lines. Approximately 36,000 graduate student teaching assistants, tutors and researchers are bargaining separately and remain on strike, calling for increased pay and benefits.
On Friday, the university and the union announced that they would enter mediation after failing to reach an agreement with two of the four bargaining units involved in the strike. A timeline for the mediation has not yet been set but the parties announced Monday that Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg will serve as mediator.
Union leaders have said the strike could be the largest work stoppage the prestigious public university system has ever faced. It is being closely watched and could have a ripple effect at schools across the country.
Academic workers say they were left with no other choice but to strike to demand wages necessary to keep up with high rent in cities such as Berkeley, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Jade Moore, a postdoctoral student in radiation oncology at the University of California, San Francisco, who was part of the bargaining team, said the new contract would set a new standard for postdoctoral workers around the country.
"Tens of thousands of UC Academic Workers have put it all on the line to create a stronger, more equitable UC, and we could not be prouder of all we’ve achieved together so far,” Moore said in a statement.