Steinberg Named As Mediator in Ongoing Negotiations with Graduate Students; Meanwhile, Some Have Settled

Special to the Vanguard

UC announced the ratification of the new contracts for Postdoctoral Scholars and Academic Researchers.  They also welcomed Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s selection as a mediator in the ongoing negotiations between the University of California and the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Steinberg, the former Senate Pro Tem and current Mayor of Sacramento, was asked to serve in the role by mutual agreement between the University and the union. The two parties jointly agreed to Steinberg’s selection with the hope of overcoming recent negotiation gridlock and securing a fair and reasonable contract for the University’s Graduate Student Researchers and Academic Student Employees.

“Darrell Steinberg has developed a reputation as a fair-minded public servant and skilled negotiator who brings people together. I believe Mayor Steinberg is uniquely positioned to help facilitate a fair and reasonable contract that allows us to support our students as they work towards their degrees,” said Michael V. Drake, President of the University of California.

Drake added, “Our faculty, students, and staff have shouldered the burden of a strike for far too long. We all know the tremendous impact our graduate student employees make, and it is my hope that with the mayor’s help we can quickly secure a fair deal that honors those contributions.”

“The University of California is a critical institution that educates the next generation of leaders and helps drive the state’s economy. We must ensure that the fruits of the University’s impact are being fairly distributed to everyone involved in its mission,” said Mayor Steinberg. “It is my hope that both parties will enter this mediation with an open mind, a spirit of goodwill, and a focus on compromise. I look forward to working with the parties to secure a contract.”

Meanwhile, UC announced new five-year contracts include multiyear pay increases, transit benefits, improved job security for postdocs and enhanced paid family leave. The University reached an agreement with both groups in late November, and the approved contracts will be effective through September 30, 2027.

“With these contract ratifications, we look forward to these academic employees returning to work from the strike,” UCOP said in a statement.

“Our dedicated postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers are vital to the University’s research activities, and we are very pleased they have approved these contracts,” said Letitia Silas, the University’s executive director of systemwide labor relations.

She added, “These agreements honor our employees’ important contributions and uphold the University’s longstanding practice of providing these employees with some of the best compensation and benefits packages in the country.”

In the last year, the University of California has also settled contracts with unions representing its lecturers, nurses, police officers and clerical and other administrative staff.

UCOP said, “These agreements were the result of both sides working collaboratively to find solutions and demonstrating flexibility and a genuine willingness to compromise at the bargaining table. UC has approached its negotiations with UAW in the same fashion.”

The UAW also represents UC Academic Student Employees (which includes teaching assistants/readers/tutors) and Graduate Student Researchers. Contract negotiations for those bargaining units are ongoing.

On Dec. 9, the UC and UAW agreed to engage a third-party mediator, Sacramento Mayor and former California Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, to facilitate discussions between them and to help resolve outstanding issues and reach agreements on the contracts for those units.

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