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Our Record

Winning and Enforcing Great Contracts

Every contract we have won since 2000 has increased rights and benefits for academic student employees, often raising the bar for our fellow workers across the United States. These gains didn’t come all at once- they’ve been built up in contract after contract. First we won in-state fee remissions, then partial out of state remissions. First we won a small child care benefit, then we nearly tripled it. This steady progress has led to one of the strongest and most innovative contracts in the Academic sector. Other examples:

* While other public employees have seen their salaries cut, health care expenses rise and benefits slashed, members of UAW 2865 have seen their compensation increase every year since 2000 .  When you combine the increases in salary, fee waivers and health care benefits, academic student employees have seen their compensation increase by 63% since 2000 under contracts we’ve negotiated. Furthermore,

* UAW Local 2865 is winning ground-breaking new benefits for part-time, temporary employees.  Paid family leave.  Childcare reimbursements.  Fully employer paid health care benefits.  All benefits that expand access to higher education and make UC a more family-friendly place to work.  We have also won an expedited procedure for resolving workload disputes.  This helps keep class sizes low, and the quality of education high at UC.  That’s on top of the fact that,

* UAW Local 2865 has led the way in creating new, stronger ways to enforce our contractual rights at the University of California.  Prior to our first contract, no other union at the University had a fully arbitable contract .  In other words, University administrators were the final source of appeal for workplace disputes. We changed that .  Everything in our contract – whether it’s workload, sexual harassment, or discrimination - any instance where someone is not being treated fairly – is subject to arbitration.  That means a neutral third party – not a University administrator - makes binding decisions to resolve conflicts. This has allowed us to win massive victories leading to substantial amounts of back-pay, reinstatement, and changes to department hiring policies.   Also,

* We’re the only union at the UC that has maintained members’ rights to honor other unions’ picket lines , allowing a powerful demonstration of solidarity with other campus workers.

These strong contracts put more money in our pockets and protect our rights on the job. However, they also go a long way to making the University more just, more accessible and more democratic. It isn’t enough to simply demand these things. Our contracts give us strong, enforceable tools.

The key to all these victories has been hard work and grassroots, member to member organizing.

Membership Mobilization and Political Action

Whether it’s going on unfair labor practice strikes, holding grade-ins to highlight the importance of our working conditions for student learning at the UC, protesting against fee hikes during mass days of action, or collecting over 8,000 signatures on postcards to the Legislature and UC leadership, we’ve always engaged in actions that mobilize strong majorities of our membership.

Our team has always favored taking action with a majority of members across the UC because this is the most effective way of demonstrating power to the University, the Legislature and the general public. As a loose network of campus chapters, we could never effectively pressure the University or our elected officials. That takes unity and lots of hard work on every campus and in every department.

We also believe strongly in political engagement. The crisis in Wisconsin demonstrates that elections have consequences .  We don’t think that any candidate or elected official is perfect, and in a large and diverse union like ours, there will always be a wide range of opinion about politics. However, we believe strongly that engagement in the political process and working to elect leaders who support higher education, labor rights and a strong public sector is a critical part of our union’s mission.

While our main priority is to transform the university into a more just and equitable institution, we understand that all social and economic struggles are connected.  We have worked extensively with other groups fighting for social and economic justice, led by member activists who have urged the union to get involved in a range of important community issues.

Over the years, we’ve worked in solidarity with low-wage car wash workers, campaigned for marriage equality, helped pass living wage ordinances, and are working now to establish sick days for all workers in California. Some recent examples include:

Sweat Free Apparel - Our members have joined delegations to UC bookstores to demand the inclusion of sweat free apparel produced by the Alta Gracia Company (where the workers are unionized and earn a living wage) and the elimination of clothing produced through brutal exploitation.

DREAM Act - We stand with activists working to make higher education accessible to all, regardless of immigration status,

Wisconsin Solidarity - Collective bargaining is under attack in the United States and we stand in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin (and all states).  We are vigilant to make sure that the same thing will never happen in California.

Organizing Thousands of New Workers

We’ve been instrumental in helping over 17,000 new academic student employees at the CSU (UAW Local 4123) and University of Washington (UAW Local 4121) to organize new unions. Most recently, we helped UC Postdocs organize the first STAND-ALONE union of Postdoctoral Scholars anywhere in the United States, numbering over 6,500, establishing UAW Local 5810.

For the first time in decades, overall membership in the UAW has increased by thousands of new workers. We’re proud to have been a part of that effort.