From Negotiations to Art: Spring Union Update

This is a repost of an article written by Lilith, originally published in The Berkeley Graduate here:

UC Student Workers’ union UAW Local 2865 represents GSIs, TAs, and readers across the UC system, collectively bargaining for the student workers’ contracts and rights.

The previous contract expired September 30, 2013, was extended to November 5th, 2013, and the Union has been negotiating a new contract with the University since last July.

Because the Union and the University have not yet been able to reach an agreement, the bargaining continues.

Last semester, The Berkeley Graduate covered the debate over social justice issues in contract negotiations, a contract bargaining update from Union Head Steward Beezer de Martelly, the strike authorization vote, and the subsequent sympathy strike.

Salgado's posterMany of these issues remain relevant in the ongoing contract campaign.

Bargaining will resume next week with a session at UC Davis on the 10th & 11th. This semester, in addition to wages and fees, the Union will be focusing on the following bargaining points: undocumented student benefits, class size, student parent assistance, and all-gender bathrooms. “Artivist” Julio Salgado recently created a poster highlighting these demands. Union members will distribute 3500 posters around the campuses as an organizing tool. Contact the Berkeley unit of the Union for copies of the poster to distribute.

Aside from the contract negotiations themselves, union members are organizing around a number of issues which affect the bargaining process, graduate student workers, and the University.

Union leadership spent eight hours at the Joint Council meeting in Irvine last weekend discussing union concerns such as bylaws changes, the budget, and a week of visibility for the anti-oppression demands, intended to coincide with the next bargaining session.

On the legal end, the Union has filed several unfair labor practice complaints. Last semester’s charge that the administration refused to furnish certain information on student workers resulted in the University providing that information. Two more charges are pending: one in response to campus police filming students protesting, and one regarding the administration’s refusal to bargain on student-instructor ratios.

The most recent complaint, regarding the administration’s refusal to bargain on social justice issues will probably be dropped because the University has begun to negotiate on these counts,  adding language to the contract about improving access to all-gender bathroom and lactation spaces for student parents, for example.

In late November, the University also began to negotiate on financial issues, increasing their wage proposal from a 2% increase to 3%, and making some movement on student leaves and childcare subsidies.

Members are appealing to the new Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to take a stand on the social justice issues, and will meet with new University President Janet Napolitano in the coming weeks to discuss the demands.

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