March 14, 2023
In December 2022, the University of California and employees represented by the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 5810 reached agreements on new labor contracts. The contracts provide represented UC Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (ASEs - TAs/Readers/Tutors), and Graduate Student Researchers with compensation and benefits that stand among the very best of any academic workers in the nation.
For information about how UCLA is moving forward after the contract negotiations, visit: https://apo.ucla.edu/moving-forward-after-uaw-contract-negotiations
The following links contain strike-related guidance and correspondence from leadership. Additional FAQs are answered below.
University of California Communications
Q: Who can I contact for strike support?
Specific questions – especially those that college/school or departmental resources may not be able to resolve – can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Are there any guidelines on what is or isn't permissible as a supervisor/manager?
Guidelines for Supervisors/Managers (including principal investigators)
|Permissible Actions||Impermissible Actions|
|Do take lawful steps to ensure safety and security at University campuses and properties. Report misconduct or threats to safety and security.||Do not photograph, video, or generally “monitor” employees striking activity for reasons unrelated to ensuring safety, security, and access. This includes refraining from monitoring or perusing employees’ social media.|
|Do take lawful steps to ensure unobstructed entrances and exits.||Do not survey or communicate with employees, including Senate Faculty, Unit 18 faculty, UAW unit members, and other employees, regarding their intention to participate in or support a strike. Such communication can be found to violate employee rights.|
|Do take lawful steps to ensure continuity of operations. Do plan for potential disruption of ongoing research as a result of a strike. Plans for the preservation of experimental materials and the like must be carefully prepared.||Do not make statements to employees intended to elicit a response concerning their union activity or union sympathies.|
|Do refer employees to their union if they have questions regarding union membership, union activities, and potential strike activity.||Avoid posts or comments on social media (encouraging or discouraging employees’ protected activities, including strike activity) which purport to be official statements on behalf of the University.|
|Do plan for supporting student academic progress, including alternate methods of instructional delivery and educational continuity.||Do not ask employees about their protected activities, their union sympathies nor the protected activities/union sympathies of others. Protected activity includes strikes and protests concerning terms and conditions of employment or bargaining.|
|Promptly report threats to safety and security, violence, or other misconduct or dangerous circumstances to UCPD. For non-emergency assistance, please call UCPD at 310-825-1491. For emergency assistance, call 9-1-1.||Do not discipline, discharge, reprimand, or otherwise take adverse action against employees for protected activity, including lawful strike activity.|
|Do not deal directly, solicit grievances, or make promises to employees, including Senate and Unit 18 faculty and student employees, based on their participation/non-participation in, or support/non-support, for a strike.|
Q: How long is the work stoppage expected to continue?
We are unable to predict the duration of the work stoppage. The University of California will continue to negotiate with the UAWs leadership in good faith to reach an agreement on contract terms, and we will provide updates and additional guidance as needed.
Q: Which workers may strike?
Workers represented by the four bargaining units represented by the United Auto Workers union (UAW):
- Academic Student Employees (ASEs) (Teaching Assistants (TAs)/Associates, Readers, Tutors);
- Postdoctoral Scholars;
- Academic Researchers (Specialists, Project Scientists, Professional Researchers); and
- Graduate Student Researchers (including some on training grants and external fellowships)
Q: Can I ask any of these workers about their intention to strike?
No. Do not discuss the potential strike action or solicit any individual worker’s intention.
Q: Is there information regarding pay for employees who will go on strike?
Please refer to the FAQs issued by UCOP on November 10, 2022.
Information for Instructors
Q: What impacts are anticipated?
We anticipate a period of unknown duration where some of these workers will not fulfill their job duties. These duties include but are not limited to: teaching lectures, labs, and discussion sections; grading submitted work and entering/maintaining grades; tutoring; supplemental instruction; research; outreach; program administration; and other duties assigned.
Q: Generally, what should an instructor of record do at this time?
If you currently supervise one or more ASEs (TAs/Readers/Tutors) in an instructional setting, please plan ahead for the possibility of a strike. Students will expect you to be the authority on how the course will proceed. The specific actions you take will depend on different circumstances, but may include the following:
- Notify your students of the possibility of a strike, how they could be impacted, and steps you will take in the event of a strike. Instruction should not be cancelled because of the strike.
- Maintain clear and frequent communication with your students. Remind them that you will be the main point of contact during the strike, and ensure they know how to reach you.
- Focus on maintaining course continuity. Among these priorities should be preserving each student’s access to the course and materials.
- Identify any aspects of the course that may be postponed, abbreviated, or omitted, and revise your lesson planning and grading rubric accordingly. Consider engaging your students in making these revisions and be transparent and reasonable with your new expectations.
- Examine the work currently being done by each ASE to understand its stage, how it might be disrupted, and the specific steps you can take to mitigate disruption if it happens.
- Ensure you have access to ASE lesson plans, student grades, graded materials, and submitted work that has not yet been graded.
- If grading will be delayed, ask students to maintain copies of submitted work and post timely sample solutions for them to review.
- Within the limits of the ASE appointment letters, consider reassigning work among ASEs if some choose to work during the strike while others do not.
Q: How can I keep students apprised of any changes?
Communicate clear plans for what will be happening this week, for both sections and lecture (see this email template you can adapt). Consider using Bruin Learn Announcements (turn on notifications).
Determine an approach for handling student questions: e.g. create Bruin Learn Discussion forums for student questions and answers; consider creating specific topics for students to post to. If using email, you can ask students to use standard subject headings that help you most easily see and respond to their question.
Q: Can I ask my TAs if they will be participating in the strike so I know whether to cancel sections?
You may not know ahead of time whether your TAs will be present (and based on EVC/P Hunt's announcement, you cannot legally ask them whether they plan to participate in the strike), so plan for sections as though TAs will not be present.
Note: Non-striking TAs should not be given any additional work to cover TAs that are striking.
Q: How can I shift discussion/lab section activities to be asynchronous (if I am not leading them)?
Post lecture notes/recordings, so that students can review content independently. You can record your live sections on campus or upload a recording to Bruin Learn. If not able to provide feedback on practice problems from the section, consider somehow providing solutions.
If shifting assignments online, remember that many students have unreliable network and laptop access, so consider building in flexibility around deadlines.
Q: How can I ensure that I’m able to manage grading over the next week?
Ensure that you have up-to-date access to all course materials and grade data before the strike.
To aid grading, you can utilize auto-graded online Bruin Learn quizzes or leverage tools like Gradescope. Consider self-assessment, consolidate smaller assignments where possible, and/or have students complete work in teams instead of individually.
Q: How much can I deviate from the stated syllabus in courses, including final grade breakdown?
It is permissible to adjust how assignments are structured and how those assignments are graded, but the final grade breakdown on your syllabus should stay the same (e.g. if the final is 35% of the grade it should stay that way, but the instructor might choose to change an analytical paper to an annotated outline or reflection paper, or change a more complex final exam to all multiple choice). Any changes you make should be consistent (e.g. dropping the lowest quiz scores of the quarter) and communicated clearly.
Q: If students miss class during the strike, can I enforce my attendance policy?
Yes, instructors may enforce their class attendance policies during the strike. But note that during the strike, if an instructor is not present 15 minutes after the scheduled start time of a class, that class will be considered canceled.
Q: Can I teach my classes remotely or asynchronously?
Instructors have customary discretion and autonomy to adapt their courses to strike circumstances while honoring Academic Senate regulations, just as they have discretion and autonomy to address other events or schedule conflicts throughout the quarter.
As stated in the UCLA Guidance for Research during this time: “Consider that members of the campus community and the public may prefer to work remotely or attend campus events remotely to avoid crossing picket lines.”
Q: Can I cancel class?
Academic Senate Faculty have customary discretion and autonomy to adapt their courses to strike circumstances while honoring Academic Senate regulations. Generally, our faculty can honor strikes, so long as they are not supervisors/managers under HEERA (Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act), but may risk some loss of pay. Lecturers are required to abide by the terms of their collective bargaining agreement, including Article 35 (No Strikes/No Lockouts), which provides that Unit 18 lecturers may not cancel classes, withhold work, or interfere with the operations of administration. Lecturers should check with their union for further guidance.
Q: What about graduate courses?
Graduate instruction should continue. Graduate students are students regardless of their employment status with the university and should continue to participate in university activities during the strike. Graduate classes and the evaluation of graduate student academic progress for grades and credit should continue as normal.
Q: Can I expect graduate students to complete coursework, including independent study?
Students enrolled in courses, independent study or otherwise, should continue to do the activities associated with those courses and be graded in response to their academic progress regardless of employment or strike participation. Faculty may still communicate with striking students regarding academic activities.
Information for Researchers
Q: Are there any guidelines for research activity during this time?
The Office of Research & Creative Activities have provided the following guidance:
- Where research is typically conducted by graduate student researchers, postdocs or represented researchers, make alternate staffing plans for caring for animals, plants and other sensitive research assets.
- Continue to follow all safety procedures.
- Postpone experiments if requirements for the minimum number of individuals cannot be met.
- Safeguard critical research assets.
- Ensure critical data assets are backed up and accessible.
- Consider preserving critical cell lines and other assets.
- Consider that members of the campus community and the public may prefer to work remotely or attend campus events remotely to avoid crossing picket lines.
- Consider postponing or offering a hybrid option for meetings, events and symposia.
- Consider postponing visits from outside guests.
- Deliveries of research supplies and materials may be delayed. Order ahead, delay deliveries or plan in case of delays.
- Expect that some campus user facilities may be short-staffed during a strike, and other UC campuses will also be similarly affected. Check the situation before you go.