Collective Bargaining Rights for UC Research Assistants Clears Senate Floor

May 30, 2017

On Tuesday, May 30, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 201, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), that will provide collective bargaining rights to research assistants in the University of California system.

“While UC teaching assistants and other graduate student employees have had labor protections for years, research assistants (RAs) have been left in the cold,” stated Senator Skinner.

As a graduate student in the 80s, Senator Skinner was part of the team of UC student leaders who organized the Association of Graduate Student Employees to seek collective bargaining for graduate student instructors. Today that organization is the UC Student Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, representing over 12,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) – readers, tutors, TAs, and others – at 9 UC campuses.

SB 201 expands the definition of employee under HEERA to include student research assistants, thereby granting UC research assistants the same right to unionize as the members of the UC Student Workers Union have, and one that research assistants at California’s State University system have had for a decade.

“UC is behind the times. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled last year that RAs at private universities have the right to choose to bargain collectively,” stated Anke Schennink, President of UAW 5810. “UC research assistants deserve the same.”

“Research Assistants have exhausted all legal avenues to acquire the right to bargain in the UC

system,” stated State Senator Nancy Skinner. “SB 201 will fix this inequity by giving them the same rights entitled to research assistants at CSU campuses and private universities nationwide.”

SB 201 is supported by University of California Student Association and the California Labor Federation. The bill now moves to the State Assembly for consideration.