UAW obtains UC system recognition for representing 17,000 student researchers

Laura Beebe, a scientist based at the University of California at San Diego, celebrates the news that she is one of more than 17,000 higher education workers on the West Coast who are now officially represented in contract negotiations by the ‘UAW.

It was not easy.

A low-key campaign by union organizers at the University of California, which includes 10 campuses in the state, ended in May with over 10,000 signed cards officially submitted to the authorities who would create the Student Researchers United-UAW. Then the process stopped.

Since then, workers have been waiting for recognition to be able to engage in collective bargaining. The University of California only agreed to officially recognize the group on Wednesday, two weeks after voting in favor of a strike.

Of the 10,890 research students who voted, 10,622 voted to strike – a month after 49 state lawmakers and 30 members of Congress urged Michael Drake, president of the University of California system, to take action, noted the UAW in a press release.

Dr Michael Drake is the president of the University of California system which oversees 10 campuses including UCLA, UC-San Francisco, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, UC-Irvine, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Santa Cruz, UC- San Diego, UC-Riverside, and UC-Merced.  He has just acknowledged that some 17,000 UC research students will be represented by the UAW.

The process had been verified by the California Public Employee Relations Board.

Grant writing and student researcher experiences on any college campus drive innovation, discovery, and job creation.

This new union in California will represent student researchers working in the fields of biotechnology, computing, agriculture and green energy.

Laura Beebe, a neurobiologist at the University of California at San Diego, fought for representation by the Detroit-based UAW.  She is seen here on August 25, 2021 during a rally on the UCSD campus.

“Our work generates a lot of value for the university,” said Beebe, 26, a neurobiologist who studies how organisms perceive nutrients and how this translates into their eating behavior. For example, when fruit flies mate, they consume more protein afterwards and show how the brain is able to set nutritional goals.

Pay checks late or not at all

“As workers, we don’t have a lot of rights and protections. The things we would really like to include paid family leave. We really want to be paid on time. Our paychecks are coming in late, for the wrong amounts or not. It’s a very big deal, “she told Free Press Thursday night.” We would like a remedy for harassment and sexual assault and a protection against discrimination in situations such as pregnancy. “

Top priorities include reducing gender inequalities, protecting international researchers who work on college campuses and increasing salaries “so that student researchers can afford to live where we work,” said Jess Banks. , student researcher in the mathematics department at the University of California at Berkeley. , in a press release.

UC opposition

The issue that caused the delay was around clearly defining which graduate students would be covered by the union, UC spokesman Ryan King told The Free Press on Friday.

“The University appreciates the UAW’s partnership throughout the process. We look forward to entering good faith negotiations on a multi-year collective agreement in the coming months,” he said. “UC believes that our graduate student researchers make an important contribution to the university.”

The UC system has a strong track record of supporting the right of employees to form or join unions, King said. Currently, eight separate unions represent 14 bargaining units system-wide, in addition to approximately 20 local bargaining units on campuses and UC medical centers.

An estimated 250 University of California student researchers submit more than 10,000 union cards to the California Public Employee Relations Board, 1330 Broadway, Oakland, Calif., On Monday, May 24, 2021. United-UAW student researchers will represent approximately 17,000 members on 10 UC campuses.

UC students decided to organize through the UAW because of its success at schools such as Washington University, Harvard and Columbia, Beebe said. “It is exciting to join such a diverse union – auto, aerospace and farm machinery workers. We draw a lot of inspiration from it, we welcome the experience of solidarity.

She cited the five weeks UAW strike against John Deere which ended in mid-November as “a very good example of courage”.

Getting organized during a pandemic

The growth of the UAW in fields outside of manufacturing has been steady over the past five years, including lawyers and engineers and academic workers.

The union has nearly 400,000 active members and 1.2 million in total, including retirees, according to the latest UAW data released on Friday. All membership fees support workers and their strike activity. Thus, a Californian university would help the attacker of Deere in Iowa and Illinois.

“This is a historic victory for workers and for the UAW as a diverse and growing union,” Ray Curry, president of Detroit-based UAW International, said in a statement to the Free Press this week.

“For decades, workers in many sectors of our economy – from automobiles, aerospace and farm implements to games, the public sector and higher education – have recognized the power to unite, to organize and negotiate within the framework of the UAW for fairer working conditions, “he said. “These 17,000 student researchers join a long line of higher education workers who have helped make the UAW a stronger and more inclusive union.”

Following:Despite COVID-19 and scandal, UAW’s income and strike fund increase with stable members

This Student Researchers United-UAW is the UAW’s largest new unit in 2021. It is also the largest both organized student employee unit in US history, and it was organized during the pandemic, Curry pointed out.

“We look forward to working with UC to negotiate a fair contract that improves the working conditions of people whose work has made UC one of the most respected research institutions in the world,” Aarthi Sekar, student researcher in the graduate program in Integrative Genetics and Genomics. Group at the University of California, Davis, said in a press release.

Tulsi Patel, a researcher studying brain control of motor function and its application to diseases including Lou Gehrig's, has just joined the UAW.  This image was taken at Columbia University Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York on August 6, 2020.

“The UAW is proud to welcome UC student researchers into our union family,” said Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President and Head of UAW Stellantis Organizing Departments, Women and of higher education, in a press release. “They showed what is possible when workers stand together and refuse to be divided. We look forward to supporting them as they negotiate a solid first contract. “

Melissa McKenzie, a researcher specializing in RNA splicing and the link between brain cell development and autism, is among 1,700 new UAW members at Columbia University.  This photo was taken on August 5, 2020 at Columbia University Medical Center.

Under the CPU recognition agreement, all categories of student researchers – researchers, scholarship holders and trainees – will be included in the union.

Following:Many newer UAW members are not traditional auto workers

Following:UAW Suddenly Adds 1,700 MD Researchers and Scientists as Members

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard:313-618-1034 Where[email protected].Follow her on twitter@phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and subscribe to our automotive newsletter.

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