What is UAW 2865?

UAW Local 2865 is the labor union that represents over 36,000 Teaching Assistants (TAs), Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs), Readers, and Tutors, collectively referred to as Academic Student Employees (ASEs), across the University of California system.


What is a union contract?

A union contract, or “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA), is the legal document defining workplace rights, pay, and benefits, negotiated between a union and employer. UAW 2865’s contract with UC has a dispute resolution process that ends with a neutral third party.

Can international students participate in UAW 2865?

International students have the same rights as US citizens to join and participate in the Union. UAW 2865 has represented thousands of international students over several decades. UAW 2865 advocates for international workers to be able to freely choose their employment and opposes employer control over the H1-B Visa. Our Union has also opposed visa restrictions on Chinese international students, and along with other UAW locals has advocated for OPT STEM extensions.

What should I do if I have a problem at work?

One of our Union’s primary functions is to enforce the contract, which means representing Academic Student Employees in a dispute resolution process that ends with a neutral third party decision. UAW 2865 files grievances—formal notices to the University that the contract has been violated—when workers have been underpaid, harassed, discriminated against, etc.

The overwhelming majority of grievances filed about workload concerns are successful, and they can be filed through an expedited process to ensure a speedy resolution.

If you have a concern about contract violations at your workplace, you should contact a union representative to make sure you preserve your rights in the situation.

Can GSRs and RAs participate in the union?

Yes! All graduate students, including GSRs and RAs, can be members. As of February 2023, GSRs, SRs, and RAs can become dues-paying members of UAW 2865.

What does it mean to be a member?

Becoming a member is a vote for a better life. UAW 2865 only has power to negotiate with UC because a majority of Academic Student Employees come together and bargain collectively.

Members also set our union’s priorities. Members elect officers, set bargaining priorities, and vote to ratify the contract. Union members also bring forward many of their own proposals and projects for the union to act on.

To become a member of UAW 2865, you pay a one-time initiation fee of $10, and when you’re employed in a position covered by the contract (when you’re working as a GSI, GSR, SR, RA, TA, Reader or Tutor), you pay a small amount of your wages in dues (currently 1.44%) that provides UAW 2865 with the resources necessary to bargain and enforce a strong contract. Students can become members even when they’re not currently employed by the University in a position under the contract.

Where do my dues go?

Dues provide the financial resources that give UAW 2865 access to legal advice, experienced staff, office supplies, and other materials necessary to remain a strong collective advocate for student-worker rights.

About a third of dues supports our local union. This includes preparing for and engaging in contract negotiations, enforcing the contract and helping Academic Student Employees with grievances, educating workers about their rights under the contract, and other initiatives that advance student-workers interests.

Another third of dues money goes into the UAW Strike Fund, which maintains our ability to take strike action if necessary. For example, the UAW Strike Fund paid striking workers benefits of $400/week for all six weeks of the 2022 UC-UAW strike (In February 2023, the UAW International Executive Board increased strike benefits so that future strikers will receive $500/week). Some of this money is also used to organize other workers, like UC Postdocs and Academic Researchers, academic employees at Harvard, Columbia, Caltech, and USC, NIH Postdocs, and more!

The remaining share of dues goes to the UAW International Union, which provides us with expertise and support regarding negotiations, contract enforcement, legal matters, health and safety, insurance benefits, political action, and many other issues.

Any member interested in seeing a detailed explanation of UAW Local 2865’s expenditures may contact statewide union leadership for a copy of the most recent independent auditor’s report.

How can I get involved?

There are many ways! Our union holds monthly membership meetings on each campus. Statewide committees related to issues like climate change, housing justice, and sexual harassment. Finally, many campuses also host regular organizing committee meetings to help build the union. Contact your local campus elected officers to find out more.