How UC Berkeley is moving beyond the strike

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin sent the following message to the campus community on Thursday:

As we begin the spring semester and look to the start of instruction, we want to take a moment to reflect on the 2022 UAW contract negotiations and strike and begin to chart a path forward.

We must recognize that we start 2023 in a very different place than a year ago. The strike affected every member of our campus community and it will have a lasting impact. While the strike is over, the work of rebuilding from the strike is just beginning.

Coming together

The process of negotiating a new labor contract inevitably places the employer and union members at odds with one another. We recognize that there were many differences of opinion throughout the process, with emotions occasionally running high. At the same time, we firmly believe that there is more that unites us than that divides us. We are hopeful that we’ll be able to set aside any lingering divisions and move forward in advancing our common goals. Many of our efforts going forward, as outlined below, are directed toward the critical need to heal and rebuild our community.

Financial and human resource impacts

The strike and the resulting collective bargaining agreements also have implications for finances and human resources, raising practical challenges, such as how we account for time not worked by striking employees and how to fund the increased costs associated with the new contracts.

These are just some of the questions with which we’re grappling. For many of the answers we await further guidance from the UC Office of the President. We know people are eager for answers and we are doing everything possible to provide them as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience as we work through these issues in an effort to answer questions and provide direction. We encourage you to rely on official university sources for information, such as UCOP, Employee and Labor Relations (ELR), the Academic Personnel Office (APO), and the post-strike recovery website that has been established.

Additionally, we know a number of trainings are needed, such as within the BRS organization, for our GSAOs, Sponsored Projects Office, and Industry Alliances Office on the new pay rates, how to build GSR/GSI steps, postdoc increases, and academic researcher increases into grants and budgets. Training for faculty (including principal investigators), department managers, academic personnel analysts and others who might supervise UAW workers on the new contract will also be required.

Going forward

To help guide our efforts, we have established a structure similar to the one employed for the COVID-19 pandemic, which is to divide the work among working groups, with overall central coordination. There are five main work streams:

  • Financial planning — Future-looking financial modeling, UAW contract implementation, contract billing, training, and effort reporting for the strike period.

  • Academic/instructional planning — Resolving grading issues from fall semester, re-engaging with GSIs and UGSIs, long-term consequences on undergraduate instruction.

  • Faculty experience — Managing relationships with funders (e.g., research funded by federal agencies), addressing concerns related to lost research productivity, repairing relationships with graduate students that may have been affected by the strike

  • Campus climate and healing  — Supporting employees, faculty, and students with rebuilding connections and community; understanding the impacts of the strike on graduate programs moving forward.

  • Communications — Keeping the campus community informed about these efforts, helping to field questions and provide answers.

These work streams, comprised of roughly 60 staff and faculty and led by senior campus leaders, have already begun their work. Visit the new post-strike recovery website to learn more about the workstreams, ask questions, and find updates as this work progresses.

With the strike behind us, we look forward to continuing our collective work advancing the mission of our university. Best wishes for a successful and fulfilling spring semester.