GSR/GSI Contracts

The information here is an overview of major points in our GSI and GSR contracts; it is not fully comprehensive but covers many aspects of the most common issues you might face in your workplace.

GSRs and GSIs are all eligible to join the union, UAW 2865, and are protected by union contracts. However, a contract is only ever as strong as our ability to enforce it---we must actively keep the University accountable to its workers by ensuring that, if and when our rights guaranteed by the contract are violated, we work together to protect each other.

If you are facing any challenges in your workplace, whether that be with your research lab or a class you are teaching or otherwise, know that you do not have to go through it alone. If you have any issues in your workplace or think your working rights are being violated, and you would like to discuss what options for recourse you might have, you can always contact a union representative at or your MSE department stewards (Mackinzie Farnell and Yoshi Chiu at and

Late pay

GSIs and GSRs have the right to timely, correct pay. If there are any issues with your pay, whether it is late or the incorrect amount, you have the right to receive your full paycheck, in addition to damages of $200 plus 25% of the paycheck amount.


For GSIs employed at 50% FTE, workload must be limited to 340 hours per semester. Additionally, during any given week, GSIs cannot be required to work more than 40 hours or more than 8 hours per day. The number of hours worked in excess of twenty (20) hours per week may not total more than 77 hours per semester. If you are expecting to exceed this workload maximum, you should communicate to your faculty supervisor prior to exceeding the maximums. Remedies to workload violations include increasing your appointment percentage (i.e., paying more) or modifying the work assignment to be commensurate with your appointment.

For GSRs, workload must be reasonable and related to the program's research needs, and commensurate to the appointment percentage. For GSRs employed at 50% FTE, this is 20 hours of work outside of your academic obligations. In MSE, GSRs are hired at 100% FTE during the summer--any work in excess of 40 hours per week is a definite workload violation. If you are working significantly more than 40 hours per week on research obligations, you are likely exceeding appropriate workloads for your position. Violations of workload are subject to an expedited grievance process.

In addition to holidays observed by the University, which you cannot be required to work on:

  • GSRs have up to 12 work days per year (1 per month) of personal time off

  • GSIs have up to 3 work days per semester of personal time off

  • GSIs and GSRs have up to 8 weeks of paid leave, which can be parental leave, for their own health, or to take care of health of a family member

  • GSIs and GSRs have up to 5 days of bereavement leave, due to death of a family member

If you are required to work on a University observed holiday, for example, to monitor a critical experiment, you have the right to take an alternative day off.

Protections against bullying and harassment

For GSIs and GSRs, you have the right to a workplace environment that is safe, respectful, and free of any harassment or abusive conduct. The types of abusive conduct which we are protected against is expansive--if you feel that you are being treated poorly, or are made uncomfortable or unsafe at work, you have the right to be protected. Remedies for violations of our right to a respectful work environment are equally expansive, and could include eliminating 1:1 meeetings, having a union representative present at all meetings, having third party reviews of recommendation letters, non-contact orders, facilitated placements into new labs, and more. Protecting yourself from abusive behavior will not jeopardize your academic career--please reach out to a union representative if you need help.

For any meetings in which a worker could reasonably expect disciplinary action, the worker has the right to have a union representative present with them during the meeting.

Workplace safety

Workers have the right to safe working conditions, and the right to refuse working in unsafe working conditions. For example, labs and workspaces must have available and functioning safety equipment and have any maintenance issues be promptly addressed.

Access needs

Workers have the right to secure appropriate accomodations that address their equitable access to work place. When appropriate accomodations are not yet in place, workers have the right to interim accomodations as they engage in an interactive process with the University to develop appropriate accomodations. Medical documentation is not needed to secure accomodations; the University may request that the worker make a good-faith attempt to secure documentation for a particular accomodation, and the documentation can be procured from any relevant medical provider.

Appointment security

Any GSI or GSR positions offered to you, informally or formally, verbal or in writing, must be kept available to you. Positions cannot be taken away from you--if you have a position taken away, you have the right to be employed in a commensurate position or for the wages in damages.

Who can I talk to?

The central email for the GSI and GSR unions at Berkeley is any issue, question or concern you might have could be sent there, and a fellow member of our union will get in touch with you to help address whatever you might be facing. In the MSE department, your union stewards are Mackinzie Farnell ( and Yoshi Chiu (

What happens when I have a rights violation?

If there is an issue to be resolved, we can help file a grievance to remedy any issues and obligate the University to enforce the contract appropriately. The beginning of the grievance process is informal, and ideally, workplaces issues are addressed quickly at the informal stage. Should the informal stage not be sufficient to resolve a work place issue you might face, the grievance process proceeds more formally between the Union and the University. The grievance process is centered on the worker--any remedies suggested are designed specifically for the worker, to the extent that they seek a remedy, and to the extent to which they are comfortable filing a formal grievance. If you feel that your rights have been violated and are interested in pursuing the grievance process, reach out to a union representative; it could also be helpful for you to take personal notes and documentation concerning the rights violation.

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