To: Academic Senate Faculty
This is the third in our series of communications on issues related to the UAW strike that began on November 14, 2022. Our earlier updates are available on the Academic Senate website.
As a reminder, the Academic Senate and faculty are not involved in the negotiations between the University of California administration and the union. Campus administration has updates and FAQs available on the Strike and Updates Support website. The UAW demands are listed on the UC UAW Strike website.
Concerns about the graduate education funding model are not new in the University of California, and the UC Systemwide Academic Senate has long advocated for change. Here are reports and letters that span a decade, some from the Senate and some from joint Senate-Administration bodies:
- 2022 Senate Academic Council endorsement of a letter from the Senate Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs and the UC Council of Graduate Deans on concerns about the future of graduate education and the impact of COVID-19: Mitigating the Effects of Covid on Graduate Students (PDF)
- 2020 Senate Academic Council endorsement of the Senate’s University Committee on Planning and Budget’s powerful letter, which discussed some of the structural issues that threaten the financial security of UC graduate students: UCPB Letter on Graduate Student Funding (PDF)
- 2019 Recommendations for Greater Support of Doctoral Education (PDF) from the Graduate Education Workgroup of the Academic Planning Council (a joint Academic Senate and UC Administration committee)
- 2012 Report of the Academic Senate Taskforce on Competitiveness in Academic Graduate Student Support (PDF) Adopted by the Senate Academic Council
- 2012 Report of the Joint Administrative/Senate Workgroup on Academic Graduate Student Issues (PDF)
We recognize that this strike has major impact on faculty research, teaching, and service. As the first week of the strike ends, it is important to reiterate that faculty have flexibility in how they respond to the strike. Faculty are not expected to take on additional labor if they choose not to do so.
While there are four bargaining units striking, the strike by graduate student researchers (GSR) differs from the others in that the struck labor, especially in the sciences, can be intertwined with work done for academic credit. The UC Systemwide Senate Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs and Committee on Research identified some of the challenges in their summer 2022 letter (PDF), which called for a workgroup to analyze the graduate funding model in light of GSR unionization. Faculty have customary discretion in determining how to evaluate research done for academic credit. Of course, graduate student workers must not face retaliation for struck work. This strike is unprecedented: we recognize the impact on research and acknowledge faculty frustrations.
Faculty are raising many questions about the strike. Your Academic Senate continues to request answers. Because this is a systemwide issue, the campuses are reliant on responses from the systemwide Office of the President.
Our divisional Senate is attending to issues related to Senate regulations and will inform the campus if there are any changes.
Chair, UCLA Academic Senate
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