LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The union representing striking University of California graduate student workers agreed Friday to enter into a mediation process in hopes of resolving a stalemate in negotiations with the university system.
"We feel that in order to make progress, it is time for somebody else to step in," Tarini Hardikar, a member of the United Auto Workers Bargaining Team from UC Berkeley, said in a statement.
"Our goal has always been to make UC a more just, equitable place to work -- a place where everyone, not just those with independent or generational wealth, can participate. We look forward to working with a professional mediator to resolve the issues still on the table. Until then, we remain on strike."
According to the union, UC negotiators announced Thursday that they would not be making any new bargaining proposals. The university system has been pushing for mediation to help resolve the strike and reach a labor contract.
"The university is pleased that the UAW has agreed to neutral private mediation so that we may resolve our differences and end the strike that has been impacting our students, faculty, and staff," Letitia Silas, executive director of UC systemwide labor relations, said in a statement.
"We remain committed to securing a fair and reasonable contract with the union that honors the hard work of our valued graduate student employees. With the help of a neutral mediator, we hope to secure that agreement quickly."
About 48,000 workers, including 17,000 student researchers, at UCLA, UC Irvine, the eight other University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory went on strike in mid-November, seeking higher salaries and greater annual raises, free public transit passes, improved child care benefits and greater job security.
The strike is the nation's largest since 2019, the largest at any academic institution, and first by postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, according to the union.
In late November, the postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers reached a tentative labor deal with the university, but they have continued striking in solidarity with the other workers for whom labor talks are continuing.