October 1st, 2018
Contact: Jacob Burstein-Stern (206).954.1938 / jacob.burstein.stern@uaw5810.org

Majority of University of California’s Nearly 5,000 Academic Researchers File Petition for Union Representation

Berkeley, CA — As a result of an ongoing grassroots organizing campaign, a majority of the nearly 5,000 Academic Researchers working at the University of California (UC) have signed authorization cards in support of forming a union, Academic Researchers United / UAW Local 5810 (ARU/UAW). The authorization cards were delivered to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) last Friday, so that ARU/UAW may be certified and begin collective bargaining with UC administration as soon as possible.

Academic Researchers (ARs) conduct cutting-edge research ranging from new cures for cancer to clean energy to new models of the universe and beyond. ARs also write grants, mentor students and colleagues, and maintain highly technical equipment, all of which are key to UC’s almost $6 billion in annual research revenue.

Some ARs have spent decades at UC, conducting independent research and are responsible for winning sizeable research grants. “Over the course of our careers, just one AR can be responsible for bringing in millions of dollars in research funding,” said Fred Bauman, a researcher at UC Berkeley conducting building science research on energy efficient buildings that provide high quality indoor environments. “For example, in the past 10 years, I have played a leading role in obtaining $8.5 million in research grants. Yet, we lack basic job security and a voice to UC administration.”

Other ARs wonder whether they can continue in their chosen career paths under current working conditions. “While working for the University of California as a researcher is an incredible opportunity, it is also unsustainable for many ARs because of a lack of job security and opportunities for advancement, low compensation, and hostile work environments” said Theo Tarver, who studies acute myeloid leukemia at UC San Francisco. “The University must foster a stable work environment for ARs, a task that UC administration has failed to perform. Creating this environment will benefit both ARs and the UC system.”

One of the nation’s largest and most diverse unions, the United Auto Workers has more than 1 million active and retired members, with active members working in manufacturing as well as public service, higher education, health care and other industries. The UAW represents more than 75,000 academic workers at more than 40 universities and colleges nationwide, including 6,500 Postdocs and 18,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) —Teaching Assistants, Readers and Tutors— at the University of California as well as academic employees at California State University, University of Washington, Columbia University, NYU and University of Massachusetts.

“We believe in our research, and we believe that forming a union will be good for us and good for UC,” said Christina Priest, a UCLA Project Scientist researching molecular mechanisms of metabolism. “Having experienced the power of being part of a union as a Postdoc at UC, I know that by forming a union, Academic Researchers will be able to sit down as equals with UC and bargain for policies like fair pay, job security, and paid parental leave. This will help us focus on our work without constantly worrying about our future — that’s better for us, and for our research.”



ARs, along with members of UAW Locals 2865 and 5810, delivering their authorization cards to the state labor board