UC has enhanced its wage offer, childcare reimbursement proposal and other family-friendly benefits, as part of its commitment to reach a fair contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) that supports 11,000 academic student employees (ASE).

During a Nov. 25, 2013 bargaining session, UC presented proposals that showed significant movement on issues the UAW has identified as important to its members. These issues included competitive pay, pregnancy leave and gender-neutral bathrooms.

UC is proposing:

  • A 3 percent wage increase per year for three years. The increase would go into effect when a contract is ratified. Previously, UC offered a 2 percent increase annually, consistent with increases for the last several years.
  • A 50 percent increase in childcare subsidies. Previously, UC had offered a 25 percent increase.
  • Flexibility on increased leave and benefits for women who are pregnant, including offering the protections under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave regulations, to support its academic student employees.
  • Increased lactation support by providing breast-pumping rooms conveniently located where ASEs work.
  • Willingness to work with the UAW on providing gender-neutral bathrooms, which the union said are important to its members. This work would be in collaboration with strategies that the UC Task Force and Implementation Team on LGBT Climate and Inclusion are studying and implementing to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff.

Although the university and union have made progress in certain areas, negotiations over wages have been particularly difficult due to UAW's unwillingness to include a specific percentage in its wage proposal. Rather than identify a specific percentage or dollar amount, the UAW continues to demand "competitive wages." In UC's view, clearer contract proposals from the union would help expedite negotiations.

UC values the important contributions ASEs make to the university's teaching mission, and appreciates that these academic appointments are key to attracting and retaining talented graduate students. UC seeks a fair and financially sustainable contract that reflects the ASEs' contributions.

UC looks forward to the UAW's response to the university's comprehensive proposal, and is hopeful the two sides can move even closer to an agreement at the next bargaining session Dec. 4–5, 2013.