LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Thousands of striking academic workers began voting on Monday on whether to ratify an agreement with the University of California and end a 5-week-old walkout that unions say threatens the quality of higher education. The largest work ever done at the American Institute. ,
The proposed contract agreement was hailed by the union and university supporters as a historic labor deal that would set a new national standard raising pay and working conditions for graduate students employed at public universities.
The tentative settlement was reached last Friday, a week after the two sides hired an independent mediator, former state senator and Mayor of Sacramento Darrell Steinberg, to help break the impasse in talks and strike a deal.
The striking scholars who walked off the job on Nov. 14 include teaching assistants, researchers, teachers and other graduate student instructors on all 10 UC campuses and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
He will have to stay away from the job until the deal is approved by a simple majority among those voting in a ratification vote that runs until Friday.
The walkout dragged on for weeks, disrupting final exams, study sessions and grading of papers in California’s major university system. Union leaders said that in terms of workers involved, it was larger than any previous strike at an American educational institution.
The tentative agreement will provide wage increases of up to 66% over the 2-1/2-year life of the contract, according to leaders of two United Auto Workers (UAW) union locals representing the 36,000 graduate students covered by the deal.
Two other UAW locals, who negotiated on behalf of 12,000 post-doctoral scholars and researchers, ratified a separate agreement and returned to work earlier this month.
The UAW, expanding its ranks to include economic sectors beyond the auto industry in recent years, made the achievement of a living wage a top priority for its academic workers, many of whom said they were burdened by rental and part-time jobs. Debt on salary is faced. At least $24,000 per year.
According to the university, by the fall term of 2024, the minimum nine-month salary for teaching assistants would increase to $36,500 at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and UCLA and $34,000 at other campuses, according to the university.
Union leaders point to expanded benefits for childcare, public transit and workplace safety as they urge ratification of the deal
But some critics said the temporary agreement fails to meet the cost of living for students living in the expensive cities where many UC campuses are located, and critics criticized the union’s move to tie salary benefits to housing costs. The deal was falsified in order to drop the demands, the Los Angeles Times reported.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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