A Pattern of Unfair Labor Practices on the part of UC management

Photo by Joshua Anderson

This info sheet outlines recent unfair labor practices enacted against graduate student workers by representatives of UC management. Refusal to Negotiate over TA/Student Ratios and other Mandatory Topics of Bargaining:
For contract negotiations, labor law distinguishes between topics that both parties must negotiate over (mandatory subjects of bargaining) and topics that can be negotiated over, but only if both parties are interested in doing so (permissive subjects of bargaining). Most topics that directly affect the working conditions of student employees are mandatory subjects of bargaining between UC management and the UC Student Workers Union, while academic issues such as curriculum choices or students’ course requirements remain prerogatives of management, and therefore are considered permissive subjects of bargaining. In the current round of contract negotiations, management has repeatedly mis-characterized issues such as TA/student ratios and non-discrimination protections as permissive bargaining subjects in order to avoid bargaining responsibility. These issues directly effect working conditions and management is in violation of labor law by not treating them as mandatory subjects of bargaining.. In December, UC management’s lead negotiator asserted that the issue of TA/student ratios was not a mandatory • subject of bargaining, and that she had no interest in negotiating over this issue. Labor law is clear: the ratio of students to teachers (like the ratio of patients to nurses) shapes employees’ workload, and is a mandatory subject of bargaining. At the same bargaining session, management insisted that the 18 quarter rule (which bars graduate students from • receiving more than 18 quarters of teaching assignments) was merely a permissive subject of bargaining. But again, labor

law is clear: management must negotiate over the terms of employment, including terms, such as the 18 quarter rule, that affect workers’ eligibility for rehire or that limit the duration of their eligibility for employment. The UC Student Workers Union has recently filed a charge with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) against management for their refusal to bargain over TA/student ratios and over the 18 quarter rule. During the fall, UC negotiators and PR spokespersons repeatedly insisted that issues of equity and non-discrimination • in the workplace (such as transgender workers’ access to safe bathrooms or nursing parents’ access to appropriate lactation facilities) did not have a place in contract negotiations, despite very clear precedents indicating otherwise. In response to these statements, the UC Student Workers Union filed charges with PERB. Soon after, UC management began negotiating over issues of equity and non-discrimination, to which the union responded by withdrawing the charge.

uaw2865.org • berkeleyuaw2865.wordpress.com • facebook.com/ucstudentworkersunion • statewide office: 510-549-3863

Unlawful Intimidation of Student Workers:
Employers, such as UC administrators, are barred under labor law from interfering with most collective actions taken by workers, including voting in union elections, petitioning managers, or, under certain circumstances, engaging in strikes. Broadly speaking, employees have the right to organize together to address issues in the workplace free of undue interference. Last fall, on a number of occasions, representatives of UC management unlawfully interfered with graduate student workers’ rights to take collective action. On October 29, approximately 50 student workers at UC Berkeley gathered to deliver a letter -- signed by 750 of • our co-workers -- to Graduate Dean Szeri about our living and working conditions. When those assembled arrived at the Dean’s office, we were met with a locked door and a handful of police officers, who soon began filming those who gathered quitly outside of the Dean’s office. Labor law is very clear: it is unlawful for police officers working for employers to film protected activities undertaken by employees, such as delivering a letter. When police officers film employees, this can have a chilling effect on the political activities of those filmed, who may fear retaliation on the job. The UC Student-Workers Union filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the Public Employee Relations Board about this incident and are awaiting a preliminary ruling from PERB. On November 20, UC student workers engaged in a one-day solidarity strike with service and health care workers • represented by AFSCME 3299, who were striking to protest unlawful intimidation tactics enacted last spring by UC

managers. In the days preceding the strike (pictured above), management representatives sent misleading and intimidating emails to student workers in an attempt to discourage them from engaging in this protected collective action. At UC Berkeley, Vice Chancellor Breslauer sent an email encouraging deans and department chairs to inform graduate students that the strike was ulawful and that “they must meet their scheduled teaching responsibilities.” A number of chairs sent along this and other misleading emails designed to pressure GSIs against striking. At UC Irvine, the graduate division sent emails to student workers saying they were responsible for avoiding “disruption” of classes, while at UC Davis workers were informed (falsely) that the strike was unlawful. At UCLA, administrators sent an email warning international student workers that participation in the strike could result in the loss of their work visas. The UC Student Workers Union has filed a charge with PERB over these incidents, and is awaiting a preliminary ruling.

Workers have the right to engage in collective actions, up to and including strike actions, to challenge unfair labor practices. Let’s take action together to insist that management end its practices of intimidation and to bargain in good faith!
uaw2865.org • berkeleyuaw2865.wordpress.com • facebook.com/ucstudentworkersunion • statewide office: 510-549-3863