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UAW news and updates

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) represents nearly 42,000 employees across four units within the UC system: Academic Student Employees, Academic Researchers, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Graduate Student Researchers. 

UAW and UC last negotiated a contract in 2022; two of the units’ contracts expire in 2025, and the other two in 2027.

UC statements 2024

May 23

Media Contact: media@ucop.edu

UC Response to UAW’s Strike Expansion 

The University remains disappointed that the UAW is engaging in an illegal strike in violation of our contract’s mutually agreed no-strike clauses to advance issues that have no bearing on employment at UC.  We are working with campus administrators to minimize disruption as much as possible, but it is inevitable and unfortunate, especially amidst an already stressful quarter and educational experience for students. In response to the University’s request for injunctive relief, we hope that PERB issues a ruling to stop these unlawful strikes so that students, faculty, and staff across the University system can focus on critical end-of-the-academic-year teaching, grading, and ongoing time-sensitive research.

PERB issues complaint against UAW 

The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has issued a complaint against UAW today for its unlawful strike activity.  

The issuance of the complaint means that PERB investigated the charge and found enough evidence to suggest that a violation may have occurred, and further examination is warranted. PERB also ordered UC and UAW to mediation in an effort to resolve the University’s Unfair Labor Practice, which will be held later today. 

Filing ULPs is a customary practice when attempting to resolve labor disputes. Once filed, a PERB agent will investigate the charge to determine if a “prima facie” case exists, meaning there’s enough evidence to suggest a violation may have occurred. If a prima facie case is found, a formal complaint is issued, as was the case with yesterday’s complaint against UAW.  

“The University is pleased by this expedited action from PERB,” said Missy Matella, Associate Vice President for Systemwide Labor Relations. “We have maintained from the beginning that UAW’s actions violate our mutually agreed contracts. We are eager to see a quick and just resolution to this matter so that our students, faculty and staff can end this academic quarter without further disrupting their education and progress towards degree completion.” 

PERB noted that UAW and UC have no-strike clauses in their contracts, which state: “During the term of this agreement or any written extension thereof, the University agrees that there shall be no lockouts by the University. The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members agrees that there shall be no strikes, including sympathy strikes, stoppages or interruptions of work, or other concerted activities which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations during the life of this agreement or any written extension thereof. The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members, agrees that it shall not in any way authorize, assist, encourage, participate in, sanction, ratify, condone, or lend support to any activities in violation of this article.” 

PERB’s complaint states that UAW “failed to provide adequate advance notice of its work stoppage, and failed and refused to meet and confer in good faith in violation of Government Code section 3571.1(c).” 

UC filed a request for injunctive relief with its unfair labor practice charge after UAW voted to strike to protest the Palestine-Israel conflict. UC sought immediate action before PERB reaches a final decision on the University’s ULP. Because injunctive relief is issued before PERB’s process is complete, it is an extremely high standard that requires a showing of irreparable harm. PERB declined to seek an injunction at this time but left UC’s request open if it learns of evidence or facts to support relief in the future.  

After mediation, the case will be heard before an administrative law judge (ALJ), where both sides present evidence and arguments.

May 21

Media Contact: media@ucop.edu

University of California files injunction to end UAW strike 

The University of California filed for injunctive relief with the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) today, seeking to enjoin UAW’s strike. Allowing the strike to continue will cause the University and its students irreparable harm — UAW members play a critical role in year-end activities like teaching, grading, and ongoing time-sensitive research.  

UAW’s strike is unlawful because the goal is to pressure the University to concede to a list of politically motivated demands closely linked to the protests occurring across California and the nation. While the University continues to support free speech, lawful protests, and its community’s right to engage in the same, UAW is a labor union and its negotiations with the University must be tied to terms and conditions of employment and terms in the collective bargaining agreement. Further, the University has closed contracts with “no strikes” provisions for all UAW bargaining units that prohibit work stoppages during the term of the agreement.  

UC reiterates our support for free speech and lawful protests and recognizes the seriousness of the concerns its community has raised about the conflict in the Middle East. The University has allowed — and will continue to allow — lawful protesting activities surrounding the conflict in the Middle East.

May 17

Media Contact: media@ucop.edu

UC files unfair labor practice charge against UAW for illegal strike 

The University of California filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the state Public Employment Relations Board today, asking the state to order UAW 4811 and its bargaining unit members to cease and desist strike activity. 

UAW authorized a potential strike on Wednesday and has stated action is imminent and would be designed to “maximize chaos and confusion” across the UC system. On May 17, UAW announced it asked its members at UC Santa Cruz to strike on Monday, May 20. UC’s filing asks PERB to issue a cease and desist to UAW from engaging in any current strike activities and refrain from future strikes violating the no-strike provision in its collective bargaining agreements.

“Given UAW’s publicly stated position and the subsequent potential impacts on our students and campuses, we are forced to take decisive action to ensure we can continue to fulfill our fundamental missions of teaching, research and public service,” said Melissa Matella, Associate Vice President for Systemwide Labor Relations. 

Each of UAW’s four systemwide bargaining units with UC state: The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents and members, agrees that there shall be no strikes, including sympathy strikes, stoppages or interruptions of work, or other concerted activities which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations during the life of this agreement or any written extension thereof. The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members, agrees that it shall not in any way authorize, assist, encourage, participate in, sanction, ratify, condone, or lend support to any activities in violation of this article.

“We respect and value a productive working relationship with our labor unions,” Matella added. “We collaborate regularly to reach mutually beneficial agreements around employment terms. We have and continue to hope that UAW will honor the terms of our contracts.”

May 16

Media Contact: media@ucop.edu

UC Statement on UAW Vote to Conduct Unlawful Strike

“This strike is illegal,” said Melissa Matella, Associate Vice President of Systemwide Labor Relations. “UAW’s decision to strike over nonlabor issues violates the no-strike clause of their contracts with UC and sets a dangerous and far-reaching precedent that social, political and cultural issues – no matter how valid – that are not labor-related can support a labor strike.”

UAW and UC have mutually agreed upon contracts in place which state: The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents and members, agrees that there shall be no strikes, including sympathy strikes, stoppages or interruptions of work, or other concerted activities which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations during the life of this agreement or any written extension thereof. The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members, agrees that it shall not in any way authorize, assist, encourage, participate in, sanction, ratify, condone, or lend support to any activities in violation of this article.

UAW 4811 has stated that they believe their members’ freedom of speech and expression was violated after demonstrations at UCLA and UC San Diego. To be clear, the University supports free speech and lawful protests. Across the UC system, campuses have allowed—and continue to allow—lawful protests surrounding the conflict in the Middle East. But when protests violate University policy or threaten the safety and security of others, the University has taken lawful action to end impermissible and unlawful behavior.

More importantly, campus administrators who met with protestors understood they were meeting with students to discuss peaceful resolutions to student concerns. The University had no indication that the protests were connected to any labor dispute or the terms of employment for students, some of whom are also UAW members in their capacity as University employees. The list of demands from student protestors, and even from UAW 4811, are political demands that are outside the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

May 14

For 150 years, the University of California has stood as a catalyst for collective action in service to social good. We have a proud history of respecting advocacy movements by our students, faculty, and staff and believe that the right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of democracy.

Additionally, we deeply value the contributions of our union-represented employees to our mission. We have worked closely with them to negotiate fair contracts that include increased compensation, more robust benefits, and, for UAW-represented members, free and discounted tuition to receive a world-class degree.

UC believes that a strike sets a dangerous precedent that would introduce non-labor issues into labor agreements. If a strike is allowed for political and social disputes, the associated work stoppages would significantly impact UC’s ability to deliver on its promises to its students, community, and the State of California. To be clear, the UC understands and embraces its role as a forum for free speech, lawful protests, and public debate. However, given that role, these non-work-related disputes cannot prevent it from fulfilling its academic mission. Further, this precedent would apply far beyond the University, impacting public employers across the state and their ability to deliver core services.

While we acknowledge the profoundly troubling issues about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and understand their impact on our students and employees, the University maintains that these issues fall outside the scope of negotiation for employment and the implementation of existing labor contracts.

The University’s focus remains on providing each student with the education they have paid for and discussing appropriate workplace concerns with all union-represented employees that honor their commitment to our students and provide competitive compensation and safe, equitable working conditions for everyone.  

May 6

The University is concerned that a potential strike by UAW-represented academic employees could create significant disruptions at a time when stability and support are crucial for our community. A strike during this already vulnerable time will maximize disruption, interfere with end-of-year activities and create more uncertainty for our students and communities. 

There is no basis under the contract or the law for UAW to strike. UC and UAW have a mutually agreed upon contract that states: The UAW, on behalf of its officers, agents, and members agrees that there shall be no strikes, including sympathy strikes, stoppages, interruptions of work, or other concerted activities which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations.  

May 2 

Today we are deeply saddened by the violence and harm to our UC communities over the last several days. Our hearts go out to all of those individuals impacted as we work towards healing our communities. 

Violence does not have a place at our campuses – public institutions designed to further civil discourse and learning in an effort to better our society and lift up our collective communities. 

With these critical goals in mind, the University of California is deeply alarmed, concerned and disappointed that our UAW-represented academic employees would choose this moment of crisis to take a vote to engage in an unlawful work stoppage. UC values these employees and asks them to join it in supporting our communities at this time. 

To be clear, UC has closed contracts with the UAW that prevent its members from engaging in work stoppages and create a duty for the union to prevent its members from doing the same. There is no basis under the contract or the law for UAW to engage in a work stoppage. Further, given the vulnerable status of our communities at this moment, a strike vote by UAW is essentially a vote to take advantage of and exploit this complex and impactful situation. 

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