Organizing of Graduate Student Researchers

Please find a message below from UC Office of the President regarding the organizing of Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) and guidelines for supervisors/managers. We ask that you share this information only with those individuals in your schools/units who are currently supervisors or managers of Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) or GSR matters.

Dear Colleagues:

It has come to our attention that the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), AFL-CIO (“Union”) is actively organizing the Graduate Student Researchers (“GSRs”) across the system. Part of the Union’s organizing efforts includes soliciting the GSRs to sign union authorization cards or a petition expressing their interest in unionizing and being represented by this particular Union.

As you may know, California’s Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) grants University employees the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations (unions). HEERA prohibits the University from interfering with those rights by engaging in conduct to discourage or deter union activity. Violation of those rights exposes the University to significant legal liability.

The purpose of this letter is to reiterate the University’s support for the rights of employees to decide whether or not to form, join, or assist a union. Accordingly, supervisory or managerial employees including, but not limited to, principal investigators should refrain from engaging in conduct that would constitute interfering witah the employee GSRs’ rights to engage in union activity. This includes, but is not limited to, asking them about their union activity, making statements to discourage or deter their union activity, monitoring their union activities, instructing them not to sign union cards or petitions, creating more onerous working conditions, or otherwise discriminating against them because of their union activities or support for the union.

Attached please find Guidelines for Supervisory/Managerial Employees regarding the organizing of Graduate Student Researchers. Please share the Guidelines with the supervisory and managerial employees at your location. For additional general information, you may also visit:

With respect to next steps, if the Union is able to demonstrate that a majority (defined as fifty percent, plus one) of eligible GSRs want to be represented by the Union, it may file a representation petition with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) or demand that the University voluntarily recognize the Union as the exclusive bargaining representative for the GSRs with respect to their terms and conditions of employment.

If you have any questions or receive questions regarding this matter, please contact or direct them to Associate Director Employee and Labor Relations, Tanisha Willoughby, at

Thank you,

Diane K. O’Dowd, Ph.D.
Vice Provost, Academic Personnel

Marianne Liu Beckett
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel

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