For decades, UC Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) have been appointed at arbitrary percentages in order to balance departmental budgets. This means that student researchers have lacked basic financial security from quarter to quarter: some quarters they would be appointed at 50% FTE (full time employment), and in other quarters they would be appointed at 43%. This inconsistency was a means of saving the university money on the backs of student workers—and because we have a union, we were able to stop it. 


GSRs won our first contract in 2022, where academic workers and management agreed at the bargaining table that 50% was the normative percentage for GSRs. After contract ratification, however, many departments at UC continued to violate the contract. As many as 4,000 GSRs were still arbitrarily under-appointed in January 2023. Academic workers filed grievances and campaigned for months on every campus to fix the problem. 


By fall 2023, all but a handful of cases had been remedied, and on Jan 26th 2024, academic workers and UC management signed a settlement in which UC agreed to increase the appointment percentages of all under-appointed GSRs to 50% FTE starting in Spring 2024. 


Through this settlement, we have finally established that the normative appointment for GSRs is 50%, and are in a far stronger position to deal with any future arbitrary appointment percentages. It’s wins like these that remind us how powerful workers are when we come together and demand a fair workplace.