Campus, union reach agreement for majority of TA wildcat strike actions

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer

As the campus continues to prepare for fall quarter, we can close some of the chapters of a turbulent past academic year. Following several months of discussions, UC Santa Cruz and the union that represents teaching assistants and other academic student employees (United Auto Workers 2865) have reached an agreement related to one of the charges filed by UAW 2865 and to other elements of the wildcat strike of this past year. This settlement does not resolve all claims between the campus and the academic student-employee union concerning the wildcat strike, but it does address a number of employment discipline and student-conduct matters.

Our agreement:
  • sets a clear, expedited course toward potential employment eligibility in fall quarter for academic student employees who were dismissed from their jobs;
  • removes grade-deletion matters from the student-conduct process;
  • creates a process to remove employment letters of warning from academic student-employee personnel files;
  • means the union will withdraw its unfair practice charge related to student conduct and employee discipline.
We believe this agreement is a significant first step toward rebuilding trust. Graduate students are valued members of our scholarly community, they make important contributions to our teaching and research missions, and we want to make sure they are supported while they work toward earning a UC Santa Cruz degree. With this agreement in place, we are committed to working with our graduate students to understand their needs and how we can best support them.

A path toward re-employment
One of the most important terms of the settlement involves fall-quarter employment eligibility for student employees dismissed from spring-quarter appointments. As UCSC continues to hire academic student employees for fall quarter, the campus and UAW have agreed to mediation and expedited arbitration in August. Expedited hearings for those terminated allows a neutral third party to help campus and UAW resolve these disciplinary actions separately and, if we cannot agree, allows for a quick hearing and decision prior to fall quarter.

We understand the need for our graduate students to secure academic student employment to support their pursuit of graduate degrees while we also hold firmly the belief that actions that significantly disrupt university operations and have adverse impacts on our students should have consequences.

Shifting grade deletions away from student conduct
Under the agreement, 75 graduate students who deleted grade information during fall quarter will have their actions resolved as employment-related misconduct instead of as violations of the Code of Student Conduct. Students found responsible for taking part in grade deletion during the fall quarter who received a student conduct-related disciplinary sanction will see those sanctions converted to employee letters of warning. As a step toward rebuilding trust in our campus processes and increasing transparency, the campus will embark on a review of our Code of Student Conduct (academic and non-academic) processes in the upcoming academic year.

Removing letters of warning for failing to submit grades
UC Santa Cruz and the UAW also agreed on a process for removing letters of warning from employment files. The university will remove letters of warning from the personnel file of any student who submitted 99% or more of their grades for each quarter of the 2019-20 academic year in which they held an academic student employee appointment with grading responsibility. This applies to each academic student employee who received an employment letter of warning or had their conduct discipline commuted to an employment letter of warning, and importantly, allows individuals to start a new academic year without these actions recorded in their personnel file.

Unfair practice charges
The UAW has agreed to withdraw its unfair practice charges related to student conduct and employee discipline. The University of California and UAW, respectively, have unfair practice charges pending and have agreed to reschedule the hearings prior to fall quarter by mutual agreement.

Fall quarter will bring its own set of new challenges in the face of the ongoing health and humanitarian crisis across the country. This settlement is a small yet important step for our community, one we believe sets us up for a stronger future together.