UC Faculty in Support of Graduate Students

The Berkeley Faculty Association has developed a petition that will be delivered to Peter Chester, Director, UCOP Labor Relations and Janet Napolitano, President, University of California. The petition states “Faculty support UAW contract negotiations with the University of California for better graduate student wages and conditions. Faculty only petition: please sign with campus affiliation.”

Follow this link to sign the petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/uc-faculty-in-support

Petition Background

We, the undersigned faculty of the University of California, are writing to express our support for graduate student workers as represented by UAW 2865 in their current contract negotiations.

We concur with the letters sent to you by 33 Department Chairs at Berkeley and 21 Chairs at San Diego (on 16 September and 3 October) that ASE (Academic Student Employee) wages are woefully inadequate. According to UCOP’s own survey ASE stipends lag at least $2,697 behind comparator institutions. Your current offer of a 2% rise still leaves a wage-deficit in excess of $2,000 (and considerably more when compared to the programs of elite private institutions we compete with, not to mention the high costs of living around UC campuses which leave many living in debt and poverty).

Such an uncompetitive ASE salary has serious consequences.

Firstly, it damages the competitiveness of graduate programs at the University of California so that it becomes increasingly hard to recruit the students who will shape the research agendas of tomorrow. Without those students it becomes harder to retain faculty.

Secondly, it damages the excellence of undergraduate education at the University of California. As ASE graduate students are the lynchpin of many undergraduate classes, recruiting the best ensures that we maintain the quality of undergraduate education at the world’s best public university.

Thirdly, it undermines the diversity of the University if only those able to supplement inadequate wages or who can afford to take on post-collegiate debt enroll in our graduate programs. Graduate education, like undergraduate education, should be available to all based upon ability not wealth.

The UAW demand to improve graduate student wages and other conditions of employment—including better health and family benefits and the guarantee of a nondiscriminatory workplace environment—makes sense if we are to maintain our position as the world’s best public university. If we are unable to recruit and foster the best graduate students in the world we will be unable to deliver an outstanding undergraduate education to Californians or to develop the research of global significance that will shape the twenty first century.

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