Instructional Continuity during UAW Strike

November 7, 2022
Elizabeth Watkins, Shaun Bowler, and Ken Baerenklau
November 7, 2022

Dear UCR Faculty and Staff,


This memo and the attached FAQs include important information for deans, chairs, directors, faculty members, and certain staff who are currently supervising academic student employees, postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers, or graduate student researchers. 


The United Auto Workers (UAW) represents four bargaining units comprised of University of California academic appointees: (1) Academic Student Employees (TAs/Readers/Tutors); (2) Postdoctoral Scholars; (3) Academic Researchers (Specialists/Project Scientists/Professional Researchers/Coordinators of Public Programs), and (4) Graduate Student Researchers (including some on training grants and external fellowships).


Following the expiration on October 31 of collective-bargaining agreements, UAW declared its intent to initiate a strike of uncertain duration to begin on November 14. The majority of workers voted in favor of the strike on November 3. 


The workers are planning to protest regarding issues including but not exclusive to compensation for housing, transit, and visas. The UAW maintains they are committed to bargaining wherever and whenever is necessary to reach fair agreements expeditiously to improve the working conditions of their membership and the quality of the UC’s instructional and research missions. The University is motivated to come to an agreement with the UAW and continues to negotiate in good faith. Negotiators have increased the number and duration of sessions which have been taking place continuously over the past several months. We hope that an agreement is reached soon.


Even as we support the right of our graduate students to engage in this action, it is paramount to support our undergraduate students as well. If a strike is called and some academic workers honor the strike, they will not be available to perform the duties outlined in their contracts. The attached FAQs provide guidance for continuing to support the learning of our undergraduate students, and for mitigating other impacts, in the event of a strike. A subsequent memo will address research impacts in greater detail. 


Regarding the possibility of demonstrations at UCR, our campus has had limited, if any, instances of physical disruptions in previous periods of strike activity. Strikers are entitled to perform legally protected strike activities, including picketing, near the exterior of campus property and entrances. Strike conduct that is unlawful includes, but is not limited to, blocking vehicles and/or persons from entering or leaving the property/facility; threatening violence; and physically attacking another. UCR campus safety staff (non-police) will monitor demonstrations and support safety. UCR campus police officers will respond promptly if a safety issue arises. 


These developments require flexibility in challenging circumstances. Thank you for your dedication to our undergraduate and graduate students and commitment to teaching and learning.