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U of California Academic Researchers Unionize

April 4, 2019
 
 

Academic researchers within the University of California system, who have formed a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers, reached an agreement with the administration about their new kind of unit. Project scientists, specialists, professional researchers and coordinators of public programs will be included. Visiting titles will be reserved for those researchers who have an appointment elsewhere. The system says it will begin contract negotiations with the union next month, once California’s Public Employment Relations Board certifies the unit. A majority of the system’s 5,000 academic researchers signed cards indicating their preference for a union, which were submitted to the state board in the fall.

Researchers are seeking more say in how their careers are shaped. "Unlike faculty members, [academic researchers] must prepare grant proposals and perform university service on our own unpaid time," for example, explains the union's website. "Whereas faculty members have the Academic Senate, [academic researchers] have no analogous voice or organizing body at the campus or university level to interact professionally and express our interests. Decisions about our advancement and promotion are made in an opaque way. And with every reappointment letter we are reminded that the university offers us no security of employment." The university has said it supports employees' right to decide if they want to be represented by a union.

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