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University of California, Berkeley, graduate student researchers have received around $600,000 in back pay, their union announced Wednesday.

The payouts, which go as high as $10,000 for individual workers, came in response to a union grievance about the university’s “arbitrary” appointment levels for employees, UAW 2865 said in its news release.

This allowed administrators to circumvent the nominal GSR [graduate student researcher] salary scale and underpay thousands of workers,” the release said. “The 2022–2025 GSR union contract ended this system on paper, but ending it in practice in the face of UC’s inertia took months of determined organizing.”

In an email, a UC system spokesman wrote that UC “negotiated historic agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW) last year and has worked diligently to implement the contract in good faith as per the agreements.”

“Any back pay and retroactive benefits received by individual GSRs related to their Spring 2023 appointments at UCB was related to specific appointments at UCB, and is not an admission of agreement by the university to the UAW’s position on the specific grievance or other similar grievances,” the spokesman wrote.

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