California’s Public Employment Relations Board verified Student Researchers United/UAW Wednesday.
The organization is a union formed by thousands of student researchers, trainees and fellows at the 10 University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Upon hearing the news, SRU-UAW leaders requested UC administrators recognize the union and begin contract negotiations.
“We welcome these 17,000 workers, and we believe they represent the beginning of a large growth period for organized labor not just at the UAW but throughout the U.S.,” Ray Curry, president of the UAW, said in a news release “The recent pandemic reminded all of us of the importance of having a voice at the table with employers.
“Graduate student researchers deliver key value to their employers through grants and what they produce. Yet they struggle both in paying for housing, for expenses and in the uncertainty of their long-term future.”
Graduate teaching assistants and tutors have rights in the UC system that graduate student researchers don’t have. A primary concern of researchers is that their funding can get pulled at the last minute.
“As student researchers in the Nanoengineering department, my colleagues and I perform cutting-edge research that brings in millions of dollars of revenue to UC every year. We love our jobs, but we need a contract that addresses the issues we face,” Maya Holay, a student researcher at UC San Diego, said.
“We look forward to bargaining a first contract that addresses inequity in academia, secures important protections for international workers and compensates us fairly,” she said.
UAW now represents more than 100,000 academic workers across the country.
“Workers in higher education are organizing because standing together is the best way to address workplace challenges like low wages, unstable benefits and persistent harassment and discrimination,” said Cindy Estrada, UAW vice president and head of the UAW Stellantis, Higher Education, Organizing, and Chrysler Women’s Departments. “These workers are choosing UAW because we have a strong record helping secure contractual protections against sexual harassment and discrimination and making our workplaces more equitable.
“We are thrilled to welcome the UC Student Researchers into the UAW.”
The University of California gave the News-Press the following statement in June, when researchers were delivering authorization cards to PERB:
“The University of California values its graduate student researchers and their many contributions to the university. UC neither encourages nor discourages unionization.
“UC supports employees’ right to make an informed decision and choose for themselves.”