Another month, another win among university researchers for UAW
UAW Local 5810

BERKELEY, Calif. —Another month, another win for the Auto Workers among university researchers, TAs and RAs at a leading university – or in this case, a leading university system.

This one came at the start of October when a majority of the University of California system’s 5,000 academic researchers turned in signed union election authorization cards to the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Under California labor law, which governs state universities, all 5,000 researchers are now represented by Academic Researchers United/UAW Local 5810. That paves the way for bargaining to begin soon, the local added.

The California card-check win is part of labor’s larger organizing drive among teaching assistants, research assistants, academic researchers and adjunct professors nationwide. All are often underpaid, overworked, lack tenure and exploited by university administrations. Other unions who have racked up such wins include The News Guild and the Steelworkers.

“Academic Researchers (ARs) conduct cutting-edge research ranging from new cures for cancer to clean energy to new models of the universe and beyond. ARs also write grants, mentor students and colleagues, and maintain highly technical equipment, all of which are key to UC’s almost $6 billion in annual research revenue,” Local 5810 explained.

But while some ARs have spent decades at their universities and brought in millions in research grants, their working conditions are another matter. The work is “incredible,” but “a lack of job security and opportunities for advancement, low compensation, and hostile work environments” makes it “unsustainable,” said acute leukemia researcher Theo Tarver.

“The university must foster a stable work environment for ARs, a task UC administration has failed to perform. Creating this environment will benefit both ARs and the UC system,” he added.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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