The University of California is currently in contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) regarding four separate academic bargaining units: Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors), and Graduate Student Researchers.
The UAW has notified UC that these academic/research bargaining units have voted to authorize a strike. Strike activities start Monday, November 14, 2022, at 8:00 a.m. at all University of California locations. This is an open-ended strike, meaning that the strike activities would be ongoing.
The strike notice means that Berkeley could experience an impact on classes and services as Postdoctoral Scholars, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors), Graduate Student Researchers, and individuals who refuse to cross the picket line (including other staff), participate in the work stoppage. Even if you do not manage any employees in the UAW union, you may be asked questions regarding the strike or an employee’s right to participate in any rallies or activities.
Below are answers to some important questions about your employees' rights, what managers and supervisors may say/may not say to employees, and the status of current negotiations:
If you have additional questions, contact the Employee and Labor Relations Department at email@example.com.
1 - Respond to employee inquiries about the strike with information prepared by the University
As a manager or supervisor, you can feel free to provide an employee with publicly available information that has been prepared by the University. This information may be particularly helpful if the employee states that they are trying to decide whether or not to participate in the strike. However, employees should be referred to their union for specific questions regarding union membership, union activities, and potential strike activity.
2 - Don’t guess if you are unsure about the answer to a strike-related question
If you are asked a question that you can’t answer, don’t guess. Refer the employee to the Employee and Labor Relations Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also refer your employees to the following websites:
3 - Remain neutral
Managers and supervisors should not offer their support for either the University’s or the Union’s position. Managers should remain neutral. Refer the employee to information prepared by the University or let them know they should talk to their union directly.
4 - Do Departments or Managers/Supervisors need to keep a tally or “poll” workers to see who is participating in the work stoppage?
No. Departments and Managers/Supervisors should not poll employees or ask them whether they will be participating in any of the strike activities. Asking employees about their intention to strike could be found to violate employee rights under labor law.
If your department is concerned about having sufficient staffing levels available on strike days, please contact Employee and Labor Relations at email@example.com.
5 - Non-striking employees may cross a picket line to come to work
If you are asked what non-striking employees can do during a strike, you may say that the law protects the right of all employees to cross a picket line to come to work. Picketing is lawful so long as it is peaceful, does not interfere with the normal course of business, and does not prohibit non-striking employees to come to work. Some tips are:
Non-striking employees should avoid confrontations and should not respond to any comments that picketers may direct at them.
Non-striking employees should not invite or engage in any exchanges, which might inflame the situation.
At Berkeley, picketers have always been committed to their position, but also respectful of the rights and views of others.
6 - Are employees not in the UAW bargaining unit (union) permitted to engage in picketing or protesting on their own time?
UC has a long tradition of respecting the civil expression of individual views, and individual employees are free to express their rights so long as such participation is on their personal time, does not conflict with their work duties, or violates established University policies.
7 - Are all of the unions that represent University employees going on strike?
No, only the UAW employees are formally going on strike.
The collective bargaining agreements of other unions have “No Strike” articles. In those articles, the unions agree that neither the union nor the employees it represents will engage in strikes, stoppages or interruptions of work, or other concerted activities, including sympathy strikes, which interfere directly or indirectly with University operations.
8 - May employees wear union t-shirts or union buttons to work on the day of the strike?
Employees should be permitted to wear union t-shirts and buttons in the workplace on the day of the strike (or any other day) provided that the t-shirt is not inconsistent with the department’s written dress code and that there are no health and safety issues.
9 - May supervisors and managers take photographs or videos of striking employees and picketers?
No. It would be inappropriate and potentially an unfair labor practice for a manager or supervisor to take photographs or video striking employees or picketers. If you believe that the actions of the striking employees or picketers should be documented, you should contact Employee and Labor Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the location of the striking employees and/or picketers and describe the activities they are engaged in.
10 - Media Inquiries should be referred to UCOP
This is a systemwide contract issue and UCB will not be speaking to the media about it. Please send any media inquiries you receive about negotiations and/or systemwide issues to email@example.com.