CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — Tens of thousands of academic workers at University of California campuses went on strike Monday with a number of demands for the multi-campus institution.
That salaries are part of the dispute is not surprising in any strike action, but the workers, represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, are asking for more than just raises.
The union is proposing a number of benefits including transit benefits, childcare reimbursements and accessibility improvements.
Academic researchers, post-doctorate workers, academic student employees, and student researchers are technically bargaining as separate groups, meaning they could theoretically end up with different deals.
However, generally, the union representing the workers is asking for much of the same in each contract negotiation and the school is making similar counter-proposals to the groups.
Here’s a breakdown of what the employees are asking for and what the University of California is offering.
Climate-Friendly Transit Benefits
Workers at the University of California campuses are demanding their employer promote lower emissions commuting options in a number of ways.
The union wants the university to subsidize up to $360 a year in bike purchases, gear, repairs, bike share memberships or other associated costs for workers who do not purchase parking passes. The union has also proposed that workers who purchase an e-bike receive a $500 rebate.
The union is also proposing that workers who take public transportation to work be paid 50% of the cost of purchasing a parking pass to incentivize workers not to drive. Workers are also calling for the university to freeze its parking fees at their current rate.
For those who drive to work, the union is asking parking to be discounted 25% for those who carpool.
Earlier proposals also included a requirement for the university to build more biking infrastructure on campus but that no longer appears in newer proposals from the union.
The university is mostly ignoring these requests, instead proposing a $20 monthly pre-tax transit allowance and the ability for the union to call meetings with the university to discuss ways to enhance worker access to public transportation.
Support for Working Parents
The University of California offers childcare facilities at a number of its campuses that are open to students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.
Full-time care Monday through Friday at an on-campus facility for children not yet old enough to attend school typically costs between $1500-$2000 per month.
Unlike with the issues being negotiated over in transit, the two sides seem to at least be on the page.
Across all bargaining units, the union is requesting workers be reimbursed amounts that would cover most of the cost of child care for the quarter or semester the worker is employed. The university’s counter-proposals amounts would cover up to $1350 per quarter in childcare costs.
UAW has proposed a number of accessibility improvements for workers with disabilities.
A considerable part of those efforts are requiring that captioning be available for any audiovisual communication and that in-person work and events be available through “online access options.”
While the two sides have come to a tentative agreement for the “Reasonable Accommodations” section of their contract, these specific proposals have so far seemingly not been responded to by the university.
The union’s website lists seven “core demands” including salary increases and some of the benefits already discussed.
Workers are also seeking visa assistance and lower fees for international students; longer positional appointments and anti-bullying protections.
The university and the union have already come to a tentative agreement on the bullying protections in a section of the contract titled “Respectful Work Environment” which UAW says lays out grievance process timelines; includes the ability to appeal for third-party arbitration; defines what does and does not constitute abusive conduct and allows for remote or otherwise separated work while the grievance process is ongoing.