Tentative Agreements & Ratification FAQ

This FAQ is about the contents of the SRU-UAW and UAW2865 tentative agreements and the process for ratification.

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Wages FAQ

Why are there different pay rates on different campuses? 

For decades, there have been unequal pay scales across campuses arbitrarily dictated by UC. This tentative agreement increases everyone’s take-home pay and makes it more equitable.

The new tentative agreement guarantees for the first time that everyone will get experience-based increases (7 campuses never had these before). Before, a TA at UCLA would get a raise after 3 quarters, whereas a TA at Irvine would not see an increase no matter their experiences.

For the first time, we are creating a more standardized way for workers to be paid across the system, which also takes into account cost of living in order to create greater equity in take-home pay. 

UCSF, UCLA, & UC Berkeley will see a $2,500/year higher base wage & UCSC will retain its $2,500 housing stipend. Given the higher cost of living at these campuses, higher base pay creates greater equity in take home pay for workers.

Find out how the new experience steps will affect your pay here.

Find data on average rents of members across the UC system here: https://www.fairucnow.org/fair-wages


Will the contract guarantee that the Santa Cruz housing stipend remains in effect? 

The University is required to maintain past practices and cannot reduce compensation in response to collectively-bargained increases. That means that the Santa Cruz housing stipend, along with the UCSF housing supplement and other forms of additional compensations/stipends, are guaranteed. 


Can UC lawfully eliminate or reduce additional compensation that I have been receiving in response to collectively bargained wage increases?

No.  The union and the UC have agreed that the University can pay ASEs/SRs over the minimum/maximum salary wage schedule.  Historically, some members have received top-ups or other forms of supplemental compensation over the base wages.  If the University has been providing you with top-ups or other forms of supplemental compensation used to augment base wages, then that supplement should remain.  The University should not take away or reduce your supplemental compensation in response to an increase in collectively bargained wages.  The law prohibits the University from discriminating against or interfering with the rights of unions and their members by reducing wages and benefits because of protected activity.  Such protected activity includes collectively bargaining terms and conditions of employment.  Thus, the University should not unilaterally eliminate or reduce supplemental wages that you have been receiving to undermine or circumvent wage increases achieved through collective bargaining.  If you have been receiving supplemental compensation, the University should continue to provide that supplemental compensation on top of your collectively agreed-upon salary. 


What changed from before, when the University did reduce our supplements in response to wage increases? 

It has always been unlawful for the University to reduce supplements in response to collectively bargained wage increases. The Union placed a grievance on pause under the previous contract while GSR unionization was ongoing to take away the University’s strongest argument that top-ups or other supplements had nothing to do with wages. Now that GSRs may win their first contract and the University has clarified their position on wage supplements during negotiations, the Union’s legal position is even stronger than before. (See: “Can UC lawfully eliminate or reduce additional compensation that I have been receiving in response to collectively bargained wage increases?”)

Can UC under-appoint an ASE/SR in order to undermine collectively bargained wages or benefits? 

No.  As stated above, the law prohibits the University from discriminating against or interfering with the rights of unions and their members by reducing wages and benefits because of protected activity.  Thus, the University should not alter standard appointment percentages to undermine or circumvent wage increases or percentage-based benefits achieved through collective bargaining.  While there may be circumstances where a lower appointment percentage is warranted, the University should not deviate from standard appointments to avoid its contractual obligations.  Indeed, the UAW recently prevailed in an arbitration where the arbitrator found that, despite UC’s claim of broad management rights, UC violated the CBA by appointing employees at below 25% to circumvent its contractual responsibility to provide fee remission.  The University should provide appointments, consistent with negotiating history and longstanding practice, to effectuate in good faith the contractual promises made during collective bargaining. 

Can UC change GSR steps to reduce pay?

No. As explained above, the University cannot under-appoint an ASE/GSR in order to undermine collectively bargained wages or benefits. That includes arbitrarily lower appointment percentages and also includes lower steps. If you are currently a GSR at Steps 1-4 you will automatically go to the new Step 2 or 3 by October 2023. 

Dependent Healthcare FAQ

Who is the new Dependent Health Premium Remission program designed to benefit?

ASEs/SRs who are single parents but who don’t qualify for Medi-Cal, and ASEs/SRs whose partner does not have an income (e.g. an international worker’s partner who is not allowed to work because of visa regulations) or a low income.

Who is eligible for Dependent Health Premium remission?

ASE/SR who is a registered graduate student with ASE/SR appointment(s) or other eligible academic appointments totaling 25% or more of full-time for a given term in a State- supported or Self-Supporting Program.

Income eligibility criteria for Dependent Health Premium remission:

A single ASE/SR with an income that exceeds their designated individual Medi-Cal eligibility threshold is eligible to receive 100% premium remission for their child dependents.

A married ASE/SR is not eligible for the premium remission if the income of an ASE/SR’s spouse puts their joint income over their designated family’s MediCal eligibility threshold.

See relevant information here: https://www.healthforcalifornia.com/covered-california/income-limits

How is this different from previous dependent healthcare coverage for SRs and ASEs?

Previously, there was no coverage of healthcare for the dependents of ASEs or SRs at UC. This will be the first remission of dependent healthcare coverage in our contracts. 

Where can I find the Medi-Cal eligibility threshold?

Families with children may qualify for Medi-Cal when the family has a household income of 266% or less of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL): https://www.healthforcalifornia.com/covered-california/income-limits

Access Needs FAQ

Did ASEs, Postdocs, ARs, and SRs all tentatively agree to the same Access Needs/Reasonable Accommodations article? 



What does the Access Needs/Reasonable Accommodations article establish?

The University is now required to:


Implement Interim Accomodations – the new article requires UC to implement accommodations on an interim basis, until the end of the interactive process, so that workers receive accommodations immediately when they are needed.


Include language about access needs in everyone’s appointment letter, so new workers are aware of their rights under the contract and know that they can have the support of a union representative throughout the interactive process (where workers have a say in how their access needs are met).


Establish a joint committee that will work to review data to analyze issues, and identify campus best practices on e.g. funding for workers Access Needs. 

Note: the Leaves article that is currently tentatively-agreed to gives workers 8 weeks of fully paid leave for serious medical issues.


What does this build from?

UAW 2865’s 2018-2022 contract contained an article titled “Reasonable Accomodations” (Article 23) which contains protections that are still in effect. That article accomplished the following for the first time in our workplace:


  • Contractually requires University to implement needed disability accommodations.
  • Requires University to engage in an interactive process that mandates worker input to get the accommodations the worker wants, rather than allowing the University to unilaterally determine the accommodations.
  • Allows workers to enforce the contract through the grievance process if accommodations are not provided, or if the interactive process is not fair.


The 2018 contract also includes strong non-discrimination protections for disabled ASEs that are grievable and enforceable.


Is medical documentation required to obtain accommodations?

Under our 2018 contract, the University may require medical documentation to help identify the needed accommodations. “Medical documentation” refers to any document produced by a medical professional – a doctor, therapist, physical therapist, etc. “Medical documentation” does not refer to a diagnosis. Under the 2018 contract, no diagnosis is necessary to receive accommodations. The Access Needs article tentatively agreed on tonight leaves unchanged the 2018 contract language regarding medical documentation and does not require medical documentation to receive interim accommodations.


What does it mean for NRST to be codified in the contract? 

Putting NRST policies in the contract means that workers can file grievances if the University discriminatorily fails to provide NRST in line with previous University policies or practices. This includes existing department and campus policies. Further, it ensures that workers have a place to build from for the next contract now that NRST is in the Fee Remissions article.

How does the contract cover pre-candidacy or other departmental/campus waiver policies?

The new language in the contract includes the header “Current Practice for NRST” and begins “Pursuant to University Policy.” Nothing in the contract limits the University’s practices to just its three year post-candidacy policy, and the University, as a matter of labor and contract law, must maintain practices or bargain changes for anything that is a term and condition of employment — which now NRST indisputably is.

Was NRST remitted in the 2014 contract? 

There has never been an NRST waiver in the contract. In the 2010-2013 and 2014-2018 contracts there was a Fee Remission side letter that was about the transition of the University’s tuition structure from Education and Registration Fees to In-State Tuition Remission and Student Services Fees. Before 2010, the University of California did not have in-state tuition, and instead the tuition remission benefit remitted the education and registration fees, which were set differently for Professional School students and Non-Residents. In addition to the Education and Registration fees, international students were charged Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition. The 2010 and 2014 Side Letters never addressed NRST. NRST was always charged to student workers and never remitted as a benefit of employment covered by the contract. The side letters only addressed Education And Registration fees as part  of a transition to 100% remission of the student services fee plus in-state tuition, and that transition was completed by 2018. 

Ratification FAQ

When will the ratification vote take place?

In accordance with the Union Bylaws and Constitution, the UAW 2865 Executive Board and the SRU bargaining committee voted to set ratification dates for next week, from 8am on Monday, December 19th to 5pm on Friday, December 23rd. 

Who is eligible to vote?

All UAW 2865 members in good standing will be eligible to vote on the ASE agreement, and anyone who is currently or will soon be a represented Student Researcher at UC is eligible to vote on the SR agreement. If you meet voter eligibility requirements for both agreements, you may vote on both agreements. If you would like to ensure your eligibility to vote, you can do so here.

How do I vote?

Look out for an email with your ballot on Monday morning. If you do not receive an email Monday morning and you believe you are eligible to vote, please request a ballot using this form (https://uc-uaw.jotform.com/223425517971964) by noon on Friday December 23rd.

If you have questions or need assistance with your ASE ballot, please reach out to elections@uaw2865.org.
If you have questions or need assistance with your SR ballot, please reach out to elections@sruuaw.org.

Does a ratification vote also end the strike? What does it mean to withdraw Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs)? 

The strike will continue through the ratification vote. In order to end a strike, the membership must decide to do so. If members vote to ratify the contract, that will include withdrawing pending ULPs and agreeing to a No Strikes clause. Ratifying the contract would thus end the strike, and members would be able to receive the rights and benefits of the contract. If members vote not to ratify the contract, the strike would continue and the ULPs would remain filed.

What does it mean to withdraw ULPs regarding retaliation? 

Once a contract is ratified, workers will have recourse against retaliation through our grievance procedures and the Union will reserve the right to file additional ULPs regarding retaliation, where needed. 

Is my vote secret? 

Both ratification votes are secret ballot votes. The Union will use the secure online voting platform Simply Voting for both ratification votes. Eligible voters, as defined above, will receive an email with their unique elector id, password and link to access their ballot.  When the voter accesses and submits a ballot, the results are encrypted, anonymous and cannot be changed. After voting, the voter will receive an email receipt and is then blocked from voting again. 

Will the strike continue during the vote?


Where can I read the full ASE and SR tentative agreements?

You can read the full text of the tentative agreements, as well as summaries, on this page.

What happens if members vote YES on the tentative agreement?

If members vote to ratify the contract, it will go into effect immediately. Workers will have access to the benefits and protections right away, and wages increases will be implemented in April 2023, October 2023, and October 2024. 

What happens if members vote NO on the tentative agreement?

If a majority votes No on the contract, it is not ratified. Everything that comes next, as everything that came before, depends on the power of a continued strike. UC presented the tentative agreement as a package, so if the members reject it, then it is unclear what UC would propose back at the table. Because the proposal that has been tentatively agreed to was a mediated proposal, the University could go back to its prior bargaining positions.

The bargaining team would try to reopen articles that were not in the economic package that the membership wants to see changed, but reopening articles that were tentatively agreed to as single articles would require the employer to agree to renegotiate. The employer could also try to reopen articles that have been individually tentatively agreed to. 

The UC would also reserve the right to proceed to impasse (see impasse explainer here). 

Can I be asked to finish grading or research work after ratifying a contract? 

Workers remain on strike until a contract is ratified or until members decide to end the strike. If workers ratify a contract, ASEs will maintain protections regarding appointments and GSRs will gain new protections regarding workload and appointments. As a result, the University cannot require workers to grade or complete research work beyond their appointments (e.g. after 12/31 if an appointment ends 12/31) or beyond their workload protections. Per the ASE contract, the University cannot require a 50% FTE TA/GSI to work more than 20 hours / week on average, 8 hours in a single day, or 40 hours in a single week; per the GSR contract, workers can only be required to work commensurate to their appointment percentage and have the right to paid time off. 

If the contract is ratified and BOTH your appointment and service expectations run through December 31st, the University could ask you to grade Dec 27th through 29th (December 26th and December 30th are paid holidays), but they could only ask you to grade for a maximum of 24 hours. If workers cannot complete grading or research work within their work hours before the end of their appointments, they cannot be forced to do so. We encourage everyone to double check their appointment letters for the end of their appointment and service dates. Contact organize@uaw2865.org if you have any questions.

Top-Ups FAQ

UC has agreed that top-ups and other supplements won’t absorb wage increases guaranteed under the contract. This means that the University does not have the right to unilaterally eliminate or reduce supplemental compensation workers have been receiving to undermine or circumvent wage increases achieved through collective bargaining. 

Second, top-up structures vary widely across departments – and many of these structures are highly inequitable. While our union attempted to negotiate a side letter regarding top-up rates moving forward, it became clear that the one-size-fits-all “freeze” of current individual top-ups proposed by UC would lock in significant intra-departmental inequality and, in some cases, create arbitrary compensation gaps by cohort. 

In order to systematically address these issues on a department-by-department basis, UC has agreed to meet with our union this winter to discuss implementation of equitable top-up structures. We expect UC to follow our agreement on top-ups in good faith, and that all workers will see wage increases under the tentatively-agreed-to contracts. Fill out this form if you’d like someone to help talk through your department’s top-up structure and ways that it could be made more equitable.

What is a top-up? For years, some departments have paid GSRs and ASEs above the base wage through summer stipends, lump sum payments, partial or summer GSR-ships, and a variety of other methods.


What has happened to top-ups under previous wage increases? Some departments have in the past reduced top-up amounts to counteract the ASE and GSR wage increases — leaving total compensation unchanged year-to-year. In addition, departments have unilaterally set and changed top-ups, without bargaining over this portion of our compensation. This had led to unfair and inequitable top-up practices within departments. 


Can departments lower top-ups to absorb wage increases? No! The tentative agreement we reached enables the University to pay ASEs/SRs over the minimum/maximum salary wage schedule, and we agreed with the University at the table that supplementary compensation will not be reduced in response to collectively bargained wage increases. Even without this agreement, the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) prohibits the University from discriminating against or interfering with the rights of unions and their members by reducing wages and benefits because of protected activity. Such protected activity includes collectively bargaining terms and conditions of employment — meaning that past reductions in top-ups have been unlawful. Here is a legal memo with more information outlining why UC does not have the right to offset wage increases by reducing supplements or lowering appointment percentages. 


What have union members done in the past to address reduction of top-ups? All of us enforce our workplace rights through the union grievance process and by filing unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB): if the University is violating the contract or the law, we file a grievance and/or ULP charge, on which a binding and neutral third-party arbitrator or judge may ultimately rule. Our union initially filed grievances about top-up decreases over the last several years, which we placed on pause so that GSRs could form a union and bargain a first contract. (Since many top-ups impact GSRs or come in the form of partial GSR-ships, a GSR union contract weakens the University’s main legal argument that top-ups or other supplements had nothing to do with wages.) Additionally, during this round of negotiations, our union filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice charges against the University for its stipend and top-up practices, resulting in complaints from PERB reinforcing our union’s legal case.

What is different now? A few important things. First, GSRs will soon have a first union contract. Second, the University has clarified their position on wage supplements during this round of negotiations, by acknowledging that both GSRs and ASEs can be paid above or off the wage scale, and saying on the record during contract bargaining that every topped-up GSR and ASE should see wage increases under this contract. Finally, our union has built up its case at PERB by filing a number of charges that articulate our union’s legal position that supplemental compensation in the form of top-ups or other stipends are wages subject to collective bargaining. 

What happened to the top-up side letter UC floated to our union? After making their 12/2 comprehensive proposal, the UC sent our union a “supposal” which would have converted top-ups to a “off-scale wage component” and frozen top-up rates at their 2023-23 levels for each individual. It became clear that the side letter would have enshrined arbitrary and unequal top-up regimes within departments pegged to specific appointments and years, and would have excluded different top-up permutations in certain departments. The final tentative agreements include a new side letter on top-ups, committing the University to meet with our union this winter to discuss how to implement a more equitable top-up structure.

So what is the plan if my department tries to absorb my wage increases? We expect UC to follow the law and our agreement at the table. But as added leverage against any department trying to skirt the agreement, every department organizing committee should be prepared to file grievances and to take direct action as necessary to ensure UC honors the agreement made at the table.