Dear UCI community and UCOP:
UCIFA recognizes that graduate student instructors are important to the current implementation of the UC mission to provide excellent research-driven education to California undergraduates. It is essential to keep graduate instructor-led classes to a manageable and consistent size, both to ensure quality of education for undergraduates and equitable treatment for graduate students. Among our concerns is that graduate TAs should not be required to spend more than the time for which they are paid (normally 20 hours a week per course) to teach, but if they attend class lectures and hold office hours, they have many fewer hours to grade essays and provide feedback to students. UCI board members have also noted the ongoing need to increase graduate TA salaries beyond the 3% raise suggested by UC negotiators to date. A 3% raise would leave our students significantly behind the national rate, as UCOP’s own 2010 survey of TA compensation has shown (for a copy of this report, see http://ucbfa.org/2014/03/bfa-supports-uaw-better-pay-and-working-conditions-for-graduate-students/.)
Our graduate students are represented by the UAW and their right to a safe and forthrightful negotiation with the university should be respected and protected. The previous contract between UAW and UCO expired last November; we urge UCOP to resolve their outstanding differences with UAW and to respect the rights of union workers to take collective actions free of managerial interference. We support the student union’s right to strike April 3, 2014 if they find it needed to bring negotiations to a speedy and respectful conclusion.
We are happy to note that recently the UCI School of Humanities has announced a reduction in the size of writing classes to 19 students. This is an example of forward thinking and will benefit all students and faculty as well as the reputation of UCI. UCOP should address class size, workload, and salary issues in its negotiation with the UAW.
The IFA supports the UAW’s campaign for a new deal for our graduate students. What is good for graduate students is also good for faculty, for undergraduates, and for UCI.
Sincerely, Eyal Amiran, chair pro-tem The IFA Board