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UC teaching assistants approve 3-year union contract

December 3, 2010 |  4:22 pm

Students who work as teaching assistants and tutors at the University of California ratified a controversial new contract that will increase their pay by at least 2% annually over three years and improve subsidies for child care and tuition, officials announced Friday.

Members of United Auto Workers Local 2865 approved the contract by a 62% margin despite a vigorous campaign by opponents who complained that it provided inadequate pay and benefits.

The debate led to an unusually high turnout, and the "no" votes carried the day at three of the nine campuses involved -- Berkeley, Irvine and Santa Cruz -- but not enough to sway the systemwide outcome. 

More than 11,000 UC employees, all considered part-timers, are covered by the contract and earn an average of $16,000 a year, according to the union. UC officials say their total compensation is much higher when tuition rebates and other benefits are figured in.

Daraka Larimore-Hall, the local's northern vice president, said he understood that some people were unhappy with the wage increases compared to what he said were lavish salaries for UC administrators. But he said the contract was the best that could be reached during the state’s budget crisis.

-- Larry Gordon