We have a contract! By a count of 2,450 to 53, a majority of all UC Academic Researchers have voted to ratify the first-ever Academic Researcher Union contract! 

Become a Union Member:

Each and every member makes our union stronger. Membership means the right to participate in the union. And membership builds our collective power to win more rights and benefits – and enforce these rights – at UC and beyond. Click here to learn more and sign up today!

Learn More about the Contract:

See below for a summary of the contract. You can also compare the improvements to AR rights and benefits before and after the contract in this document and read the full agreement here. Contact ARunited@academicresearchersunited.org with any questions.


UAW 5810 Contract Summary for Academic Researchers


Guaranteed salary scale increases will result in raises as high as 14-24% over the life of the contract (not including merit increases and promotions).

  • Salary scale increase of 4-7% on January 1, 2020
  • Salary scale increase of 3-5% on July 1, 2020
  • Salary scale increase of 3-5% on July 1, 2021
  • Salary scale increase of 3-5% on July 1, 2022

For a more in-depth compensation explainer, click here.

Benefits and Retirement Programs
Academic Researchers can participate in benefit programs (including medical, dental, vision, retirement, and housing) on the same basis as other academic employees. UC cannot increase ARs’ contribution rates for UC retirement programs over the life of the contract.

Joint Committee on Bridge Funding
The Union and the University will form a joint committee to explore the creation of a bridge funding program for Principal Investigators in the AR bargaining unit.

Leaves of Absence
ARs will have no limits on the use of accrued sick leave and vacation to take paid time off for reasons such as pregnancy, bonding with a new child, or to care for a family member. Parental leave can be used in a flexible manner that works best with an AR’s needs. The Union and UC will also initiate a joint committee specifically tasked with exploring expanded paid family leave for ARs.

Parking and Transit
Academic Researchers may participate in their campus’s parking and transit programs on the same basis as non-Senate academic staff. UC shall not raise parking rates more than the amounts specified in the contract.

Sick Leave
Full-time ARs accrue one day of sick leave per month. The contract guarantees that approved absences of less than one full day (such as a doctor’s appointment) will not require the use of a sick leave day, and that sick time can be used for other types of leave such as caring for a family member and parental leave (See section on Leaves of Absence).

Title Series Articles (Project Scientist, Specialist, Professional Researcher, and Coordinator of Public Programs)
Academic Researchers eligible for merit reviews and promotions will be notified at least six weeks before materials are due. UC may apply a search exemption for an AR transferring between AR title series. For ARs appointed at less than 100%, the expected effort shall be commensurate with the appointment percentage.

Travel Reimbursement
UC will reimburse Academic Researchers for all required travel. UC also shall not unreasonably deny an Academic Researcher’s request for travel that is not required but may advance their professional development and may provide reimbursement for such travel.

Full-time Academic Researchers accrue two days of vacation per month and the University cannot unreasonably deny such requests. This time can also be used for various forms of leave such as child-bearing, parental leave, and medical leave (See section on Leaves of Absence).

Work-Incurred Injury or Illness
Academic Researchers can use sick leave or vacation when they are unable to work due to a work-incurred injury or illness compensable under the California Workers’ Compensation Act. ARs may supplement temporary disability payments received under the Workers’ Compensation Act such that they receive their full salary.


Initial appointments must be for a minimum of 1 year. After first merit review, reappointments must be equal to length of time in a pay step (2 – 3 years at a minimum). Academic Researchers will have access to information about their rights under the contract at the outset of their appointment by receiving written notification of the terms of their appointment. Academic Researcher on visas will not suffer a loss in pay if the University fails to send necessary work authorization paperwork to the external agencies according to UC’s timelines and there is a resulting delay in the start date of an Academic Researcher’s reappointment.

Corrective Action and Dismissal
Improves Academic Researchers’ appointment security rights. Academic Researchers may not to be fired or disciplined arbitrarily and without “just cause.” In other words, the UC must establish a compelling justification for an Academic Researcher to be fired or disciplined.

Grievance and Arbitration
Establishes an effective procedure for resolving employment disputes between Academic Researchers and UC. While the contract encourages informal resolution of grievances, it also include the right to take an unresolved grievance to a neutral third party arbitrator. International ARs who face dismissal are entitled to visa assistance if travel to the US is necessary for an arbitration hearing.

Layoff and Reduction in Time
Provides layoff protections by defining the conditions under which UC may lay off an Academic Researcher, the order of layoffs, and the timelines for notification, and the amount of salary an AR must be paid when being laid off. For Academic Researchers who primarily supported by funding sources on which they are a Principal Investigator, UC may allow a salary reduction instead of a reduction in percent effort in the case of funding shortages.

Medical Separation
Protects Academic Researchers by creating a fair process for instances where the University contends that a medical condition prevents an AR from performing the essential functions of their job.

Strengthens protections against and remedies for instances of discrimination and sexual harassment by addressing these situations through the grievance and arbitration procedure, rather than through the UC’s internal procedures and the courts. Under the contract, Academic Researchers have the right to have issues of discrimination and harassment resolved in a much faster, fairer and completely cost-free manner. There are also strong protections for ARs who report a claim to ensure their research and career progress can continue. In addition, the Union and UC will jointly develop training to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, and the contract includes stronger rights to lactation rooms and all-gender restrooms.

Personnel Files
Establishes the right of an Academic Researcher or their designated representative to review and receive a copy of their personnel file and the right to request corrections to factual errors in the file.

Reasonable Accommodation
Academic Researchers now have guaranteed rights to reasonable accommodations for disabilities and to provide input in the process of securing those accommodations.

Time and Effort Commitment
Establishes rules and protections for Academic Researchers who work on an hourly basis (as known as FLSA non-exempt)


Health and Safety
Improves Academic Researchers’ ability to protect ourselves from working in unsafe or hazardous conditions including: the right to grieve violations of the University’s health and safety policies; the right to relevant health and safety training; the right to refuse a hazardous assignment until it has been remedied or determined to be safe; access to safe operating procedures and legally-required safety records for chemicals, substances and equipment; and access to protective clothing and equipment necessary for the assignment.

Ensures that Academic Researchers receive proper training for our assignments. UC will provide paid time off and will pay any associated fees to attend required trainings, workshops, or courses necessary to fulfill the Academic Researcher’s duties.


Labor-Management Meetings
Establishes a process where the union and UC can schedule quarterly meetings to talk about issues of import to Academic Researchers. These meetings will build on the rights and other improvements in the first contract and establish a basis on which to bargain for additional improvements in future contracts.

Management and Academic Rights
Elaborates areas in which UC retains the right to manage its operations, except as modified by the contract.

No Strikes
Like nearly every other UC union, we agreed not to go on strike for the life of the agreement.

Out of Unit Movement
Establishes procedures for UC to follow when it would like to move an individual out of the bargaining unit, such as to a supervisory title, and a process for the union to challenge such designations if necessary.

Affirms UC’s recognition of the Union as the exclusive bargaining representative for all UC Academic Researchers.

Defines what happens if a particular contract article is found by a court to be in conflict with a law — that article is voided while the rest of the contract remains in effect. The union and UC will then enter into bargaining over the article in conflict with the law.

Union Access and Rights
Establishes the many important ways in which the union can enforce the contract and effectively represent Academic Researchers, including guaranteeing the union a 30-minute meeting with all incoming Academic Researchers at group onboardings or new employee orientations; provide information to the Union about who is in the bargaining unit; the University will provide release time for Academic Researcher representatives to work on grievances and to participate in negotiations for the next contract;

Union Security
Establishes the mechanisms through which dues will be deducted and transmitted to the union. Since effective enforcement of our contract with UC requires economic resources in addition to membership mobilization, this article establishes a system of payroll deduction for Academic Researchers who are union members to pay dues.

Waiver/Past Practice
Maintains our right to bargain over significant changes in our working conditions that are not covered by the contract, which means UC has to bargain any new policy that they want to create, and cannot change current practices without negotiating with us.

The contract will be in effect for just under three years, expiring on September 30, 2022.