The University of California and 48,000 people who work as teachers and researchers while earning postgraduate degrees came to a tentative labor agreement Friday, both sides announced.
The deal, which includes significant raises for the employees, ends the grad students' five-week strike. Before classes ended for winter break Dec. 9 at UCLA and other campuses, undergraduate students said their studies were being impacted by the labor action.
The grad students argued that the cost of living, including untenable rents, was too much to handle in some of the system’s larger metropolitan areas, including the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego.
On Friday evening, United Auto Workers, the union representing the striking student workers, hailed the tentative agreement and praised Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg for helping accelerate negotiations.
The union said its members on the system's nine campuses would see raises amounting to as much as a 66% increase in pay over the contract's more than two-year lifespan. It would mean an additional $13,000 a year for some, it said.
A union ratification vote was scheduled to begin Monday.
"In addition to incredible wage increases, the tentative agreements also include expanded benefits for parent workers, greater rights for international workers, protections against bullying and harassment, improvements to accessibility, workplace protections, and sustainable transit benefits," Tarini Hardikar, a UC Berkeley-based member of the union's bargaining team, said in the UAW's statement.
The University of California said it would make health care accessible to the dependents of student employees and enhance paid family leave benefits.
The UC system is reliant on graduate students' work, particularly in educating undergraduate students.
Grad students often lead smaller, breakout groups and help professors come up with grades and evaluations.
The employees have argued that the average salary of $24,000 annually for teaching assistants, tutors and other academic roles is not enough to live in a place like Berkeley or Los Angeles.
"We can’t even afford to live in the housing the university provides us without working multiple other jobs," Vincent Doehr, a second-year grad student in political science at UCLA, said earlier this month.
System president Michael V. Drake was pleased with Friday's outcome and recognized the workers' role in the system's lauded education and research.
"Our Academic Student Employees and Graduate Student Researchers are central to our academic enterprise and make incredible contributions to the University’s mission of research and education," he said in a statement.