University of California academic staff partially end strike
SACRAMENTO — Postdoctoral fellows and academic researchers at the University of California announced Friday night that they will return to work Monday, partially ending a weeklong strike but bringing little relief to hundreds of thousands of students whose campuses were disrupted during finals. .
The surprise results released Friday of a ratification vote by about 12,000 of the oldest striking workers cemented a tentative agreement to raise wages and provide additional benefits, including eight weeks of fully paid family leave for researchers.
But the agreement announced last week with two of the four bargaining units involved in the walkout left about 36,000 workers still on strike. Graduate students who help teach classes and grade students will continue to hold down their jobs, and campuses are still figuring out how to grade final grades and change the end of their academic quarters and semesters.
Earlier Friday, the university and negotiators for those bargaining units announced they would move to private mediation in an effort to end the walkout, which has canceled classes, closed labs and suspended operations at the prestigious state university system since Nov. 14.
UC’s 10-campus system has nearly 300,000 students and serves as a major research engine for a state that is critical to the nation’s most innovative sectors. The five-year agreements reached last week with on two bargaining units will raise salaries by about 20 percent for most postdocs by next fall and increase pay and benefits for academic researchers.
As the two remaining and larger bargaining units agreed to the university’s request for private mediation, nearly 90 percent of postdoctoral fellows and nearly 80 percent of academic researchers voted to formally ratify their agreements and return to work as the rest of the striking workers worked , to resolve the payment impasse.
The postdoctoral fellows and academic researchers said last week that they would continue to strike because UC had not reached deals with the remaining employees who were left without a contract. But by ratifying the contracts on Friday, workers committed to returning to work on Monday.
All of the striking workers said their compensation fell far short of what they needed to make ends meet in California, especially given the pressures of inflation and a persistent housing shortage. The university charged that their demands were financially unsustainable.
Jade Moore, a postdoctoral fellow in radiation oncology at UC San Francisco and a member of the negotiating team, praised the new postdoc contract, saying it will set a new standard for postdocs across the country.
“Tens of thousands of academic workers at UC put everything on the line to create a stronger, fairer UC,” she said in a statement Friday night.
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