2865 & 5810 Executive Boards Joint Statement on Amalgamation
The executive boards of UAW 2865 and UAW 5810 strongly support the Amalgamation Referendum and encourage members to vote in support. Amalgamation of our two locals represents the next step in building power as academic workers at UC. As a combined local union of over 48,000 workers we can build on the successes of the 2022 strike that were achieved by coordinated organizing and bargaining. Uniting in one local would make us by far the largest union at UC and one of the largest in California, which would expand our power to win a more fair and equitable UC. It would also make us the largest local in the UAW, which would increase our ability to push progressive reforms internally. Uniting in one organization would allow us to continue and broaden the resource-sharing that we’ve already started as two closely allied locals.
This page is updated by members of the UC-UAW amalgamation committee as questions come in. Last updated: 09/11/23
What does it mean to amalgamate?
Amalgamation means that the two Locals (2865 and 5810) would come together to form one Local union.
Amalgamating our two locals would greatly improve our strength in opposition to the university. A key factor in the power of our Fall 2022 strike was the unity of 48,000 workers. Amalgamating our two locals would enshrine this unity, and make it difficult for the university to continue using divide-and-conquer tactics to weaken our power. Furthermore, there is an extensive amount of overlap in the organizing activity of 2865 and 5810, given that we share a workplace and an employer. Amalgamating the locals would reduce the redundancy of our organizing and streamline our efforts, and increase our power in negotiations.
What is the current structure of our unions?
We currently have two locals. Local 2865 and Local 5810. Local 2865 has two bargaining units, which are the Academic Student Employees (ASE) and the Graduate Student Researchers (GSR). Local 5810 also has two bargaining units, which are the Postdocs and Academic Researchers (AR). The two different unions have separate executive boards and bylaws. See the full UAW5810 Bylaws and UAW2865 Bylaws linked here for more details on current structure.
Is there any precedent for similar higher education locals?
There are numerous examples of higher ed Locals in the United States where postdocs, researchers and teaching assistants are unionized under one Local, including UAW 4121 at University of Washington and AAUP-AFT at Rutgers University. In many regards, 5810 and 2865 are an anomaly in that they constitute two separate locals. It was under the authority of a previous international UAW leadership which forbade newly organized postdocs in the mid-00s from adjoining 2865, for political reasons rather than the betterment of workers. Amalgamating under an energized and reformed Region 6 and international UAW leadership would rectify this unfortunate past.
What is the Amalgamation Committee (AC)?
The Amalgamation Committee was formed following the April Joint Council as a means to investigate the best path forward for amalgamating UAW 265 and 5810. Rather than being a purview of already elected officers. Our locals decided to open up the process by calling for elected leaders and rank-and-file members to participate in the exploratory process.
This committee does not have decision making powers by itself, rather, it will be providing recommendations to the membership and leadership bodies, as well consulting with already established bodies such as the Bylaws Committees and Joint Councils.
What is and why this process?
Since the formation of the Amalgamation Committee, its members have been meeting regularly and conducting research on the best path forward for amalgamating. This includes looking at ways to pool resources and combine leadership structures, for example. After proposing a resolution for the guidelines and timeline for moving forward with amalgamation — which was first unanimously endorsed by the Amalgamation Committee — the Committee will work with the Bylaws Committee to restructure the bylaws of the amalgamated local.
The committee has proposed — and the Joint Council has approved — that the membership vote on amalgamation during the October vacancy elections. This would allow for enough time to enact new necessary bylaws changes in advance of the April 2024 Triennial elections. Were amalgamation to happen after the April 2024 Triennial elections, it could cause massive disruption to and confusion in our democratic structures.
What would amalgamation look like?
Amalgamation will look like one combined union of ARs, PDs, and ASEs/SRs under one local. If amalgamated, we would have one statewide Executive Board to represent everyone, but campus-wide elected positions will remain relatively unchanged. Meetings, committees, and other organizing will likely become joint between all units. There can still be unit-focused actions and meetings (such as Postdoc organizing committees). Financial resources will also be shared.
Participation in a fully amalgamated local might look slightly different campus-by-campus depending on current campus structures. At campuses where most meetings are joint between 5810 and 2865, it is likely that little will visibly change. At campuses where many meetings are still separate between locals, these meetings may likely become joint meetings, such as Monthly Membership Meetings and Organizing Committee meetings.
Who decides whether we will amalgamate?
Members will decide whether they want to amalgamate. Depending on the vote, the request will then be sent to the International Executive Board (IEB) of the UAW, which will need to approve the request from our Locals to amalgamate.
To make sure the decision of amalgamation is maximally democratic and participatory, the Amalgamation Committee recommended a full membership vote in UAW 2865 and UAW 5810 on the decision of amalgamation, with which the Joint Council voted to move forward.
How will we ensure that interests of all bargaining units are represented in an amalgamated union?
There will be positions on the Executive Board and joint council dedicated to specific units. Furthermore, workers from each unit will be encouraged to build organizing committees and working groups for unit-specific issues, as is already the case.
What would happen to the existing contracts after amalgamation?
Amalgamation of the 2 Locals would preserve existing Collective Bargaining Agreements (Contracts). Student workers, Postdocs, and Academic Researchers would retain separate contracts and bargain over them as existing bargaining units.
What are the similarities and differences in the current leadership structures?
The membership is the highest decision-making body in both Locals, as expressed in the Statewide Membership Meeting. Between Statewide Membership Meetings, the elected Joint Council makes decisions for each Local, though in the past year the two Joint Councils of 5810 and 2865 have been considering relevant questions jointly. The Joint Councils are composed of the Unit/Campus Chairs and Recordings Secretaries at each campus, along with head stewards from each campus and members of the Executive Board. In Local 2865, there is one Head Steward for every two hundred (200) in-unit members, with the Unit Chairs and Recording Secretaries serving as the first head stewards. In Local 5810, there is one Head Steward for every two hundred fifty (250) bargaining unit employees for each unit, with the Campus Chairs and Recording Secretaries serving as the first head stewards for each unit.
Between Joint Council meetings, the Executive Boards make decisions in the Locals. Each Executive Board has a President, Vice Presidents, a Financial Secretary, a Recording Secretary, a Sergeant-at-arms, a Guide, and trustees. In 5810, there is one Vice President, three trustees (where there must be at least one trustee from the AR and PD units, and two Members-At-Large. In 2865, there are two Vice Presidents (Northern and Southern) and three trustees. Decisions of the Executive Boards are subject to approval by the Joint Council.
What will the new leadership structure be? How will Joint Council positions be decided?
The proposed leadership structure involves a new, cross-unit Executive Board and a combined Joint Council. The proposed structure of the Executive Board includes one President, two Vice Presidents, a Recording Secretary, a Financial Secretary, a Sergeant-at-arms, a Guide, and three trustees. There will be one Vice President for student workers (ASEs/SRs) and one Vice President for Postdocs/ARs. There must be one trustee from the student workers unit (ASEs/SRs), one from the postdoc unit, and one from the AR unit.
The method for deciding Joint Council positions will remain roughly the same as they are now, with the intent of retaining the current size of the combined Joint Councils of 5810 and 2865. Exact apportionments for head steward seats are still being determined to ensure compliance with the UAW Constitution, but each campus will receive a number of head steward positions based on the number of in-unit members in good standing in each unit.
How will we make sure all members are represented?
The goal of the proposed amalgamated structures is to retain the democratic representation that currently exists in our locals. Each campus and each unit will continue to elect its own Unit/Campus Chairs, Recording Secretaries, and head stewards to represent their interests on the Joint Council. The structure of the bargaining teams will also remain the same, so elected officials from each unit will lead bargaining for those units. Furthermore, as codified by the UAW Constitution, matters pertaining solely to an individual unit will still be decided upon by members and elected officials of that unit – those matters will be decided upon by breakouts in membership meetings and at the Joint Council.
If the Locals are amalgamated, would workers in one Local join strikes in the other?
Strikes are called by and for the bargaining unit. If amalgamation occurs, there will be three bargaining units in the combined Local: Academic Researchers, Postdocs, and Student Workers. Each unit will decide for itself when and if to go on strike. For example, if Student Workers went on strike, Postdocs would not go on strike – unless the Postdoc unit also called a strike.
Does the UAW International Executive Board have any say on if and how we amalgamate?
If members democratically decide to initiate the amalgamation process, we will be required to send a petition to the elected International Executive Board (IEB) of the UAW requesting that amalgamation of the two locals occur. The IEB will then investigate the feasibility of amalgamation and vote to approve or reject amalgamation. If the amalgamation is approved, the IEB will direct the regional director (in Region 6, Mike Miller) to establish the amalgamated local.
Since bargaining units will be separate, will the ratification process for contracts be together or separate?
Currently, each unit votes separately on contracts. As such, only AR members can vote on a contract for ARs, only PD members can vote on a contract for PDs, and only ASE/SR members can vote on a contract for ASE/SRs. We have worked in the past to try to align the times of contract negotiations and actions, however the actual ratification votes have been separate between units. Since the bargaining units would remain separate if we amalgamated, unit-specific matters would still only be decided by members and elected officials of that unit.
How many head steward positions would we have after amalgamation?
The recommendation from the Amalgamation Committee is that the Joint Council maintains its current size (which includes head steward positions). This means that the bylaws of an amalgamated UC-UAW would strive to achieve a similar proportion of head steward positions as we have currently. If membership numbers increase in units, then there would be a proportional increase in head steward positions. Units would still maintain separate head stewards.
Will amalgamation result in the merging of the bargaining units?
There is currently no suggestion to merge the existing bargaining units with amalgamation.
UAW 2865 has petitioned to combine the CBAs (Collective Bargaining Agreements, aka contracts) for the two units (ASEs and SRs) for the next CBA in 2025, following a membership mandate across campuses in Spring 2023. This is currently underway and is separate from the process of amalgamation.
Will we have one membership card?
Currently, both locals share a membership card on paper; however because PD/ARs and ASEs/SRs are in different locals legally the membership cards have to be processed separately by each local. Additionally, currently workers who transition between locals (e.g. an SR who becomes a PD) have to sign a new membership card specific to that local. If amalgamated, we would have one membership card for all units that could be easily processed and any worker who transitions between units would not need to sign a new membership card.
Why didn't 5810 join 2865 initially?
The initial petition by Postdocs to join UAW 2865 when they won their first contract was denied by the corrupt former UAW International Executive Board, likely because they were afraid of so much concentrated power in an academic union.