Restoring graduate student employment eligibility

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

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

Last month, we announced a settlement agreement between UC Santa Cruz and the union that represents teaching assistants and other academic student employees (United Auto Workers 2865) that would create a path toward re-employment. Last week, representatives from University of California Office of the President, UC Santa Cruz, and UAW 2865 worked with a mediator to negotiate an agreement to allow for eligibility for re-employment of academic student employees who were dismissed for their failure to submit grades during the 2019-20 academic year. 

This is an important step toward rebuilding community trust and moving beyond the discord created by the wildcat strike. It also reflects the limitations we operate under when confronted with violations of a closed contract between UCOP and a union. We take seriously the campus's role in meeting the promises created through collective bargaining. Actions outside a collective bargaining agreement undermine our relationship with our unions, and ultimately will not replicate what is achieved at a bargaining table. We now find ourselves roughly where we were on Jan. 27, when UC Santa Cruz announced new five-year funding guarantees and $2,500 housing stipends to help address the real concerns raised by graduate students about the cost of housing. We take seriously our commitment to the well-being and success of graduate students and we will work to create and maintain an environment of open and honest dialogue.

Termination is an outcome in the disciplinary process outlined in the UAW 2865 contract. There is no debate that those who were terminated violated their contract by withholding grades. These terminations were not unfair or unexpected as ample notice was provided and opportunities to submit grades were offered right up to the deadline — a deadline long after grades were due. UCSC continued to pay for the health insurance of those who were dismissed from their appointments for violating their contract. Only once all grades were turned in and the wildcat strike ended were we able to explore pathways to eligibility for employment with UCOP and UAW 2865.

UC Santa Cruz graduate students play a critical role in advancing research, supporting teaching and learning, and serving society through their work in pursuit of an advanced degree. Our graduate students are not just the future of academic research and teaching, they are a vital part of its present. We remain resolute in our commitment to find new ways to support the success of our graduate students while they study at UC Santa Cruz. This requires honest and open dialogue on the issues within our control where we can take concrete action. Improving graduate education is a continuous process and takes consistent engagement and effort by our whole community. 

We recognize that it will take time and continued action to rebuild trust with our community, particularly with those who supported the wildcat strike. Our graduate students must thrive if our campus is to succeed in its mission.