Negotiations for GSIs, Readers And Tutors' Contracts Extended

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Stalled negotiations between UC officials and a union representing more than 12,000 academic student employees throughout the system are slated to resume Oct. 14, following a stalemate last Thursday amid the union's allegations of unfair labor practices by the university and threats of a possible strike if such practices continue.

After more than four months of negotiations, officials from the UC and United Auto Workers Local 2865 - a union representing graduate student instructors, readers and tutors throughout the UC system - hit a dead end last week, with wage increases and childcare subsidies levels left unresolved.

Because of the impasse, the union's contract - which would have expired Thursday - was extended by two weeks in the hopes that an agreement could be reached. Union members allege the UC unilaterally walked away from the negotiations, according to Mandy Cohen, a UC Berkeley graduate student and head steward for the union on campus.

Negotiations are set to resume Oct. 14 and will continue until Oct. 15 when the extended contract will expire, she added, giving both sides two days to finalize an already contentious contract.

While negotiations are currently at a standstill, both sides had come close to an agreement on a variety of issues, according to Nick Kardahji, a UC Berkeley graduate student and the recording secretary of the union.

"We're actually relatively close to agreement on a lot of issues," Kardahji said. "The main issues that remain to be negotiated are admittedly more prominent ones like the wage increases and childcare subsidies that our members are entitled to."

Throughout the negotiations, union members have said that the university is not bargaining in good faith. At the end of September, the union filed unfair labor practice charges accusing the UC of bad faith bargaining. UC officials maintain that this is not the case.

"The university has been bargaining in good faith. We have met regularly since late June in an effort to reach a deal," said Leslie Sepuka, UC spokesperson, in an e-mail.

According to Cohen, if unfair labor practices and bad faith negotiations persist, the union may be forced into an unfair labor practices strike at the end of the semester. However, she added that a strike would be a last resort because union members want to avoid having to stop teaching their classes.

"The university is well within its power to forestall or to avoid an unfair labor practice strike by negotiating with the union in good faith," said Daraka Larimore-Hall, the union's vice president and a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara. "In the past we have gone on strike when necessary, and if we're forced, we're prepared to do so to again."


Aaida Samad covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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