Gov. Gavin Newsom, in an interview, said he was “relieved” by the deal, but called the labor friction “a preview of things to come” as the economy softens. A state budget agreement this year that guaranteed at least five years of annual increases to U.C. funding will most likely pay for the added costs of the new contracts, he said.
“I’m pleased,” Mr. Newsom said. “I don’t expect, and hope not to see, a tuition increase.”
The announcement came as concerns had begun to mount that fall grades might be delayed by the university’s dispute with the employees who, in many ways, serve as the backbone of day-to-day undergraduate instruction. Many programs had already made adjustments to their grading schedules as the finals period and winter recess approached, but officials noted that for some students, a long postponement could jeopardize federal financial aid.
The University of California system has nearly 300,000 students and serves as the major research engine for a state that is crucial to the nation’s most innovative sectors. The labor action highlighted the schools’ reliance on the graduate students, researchers and postdoctoral fellows who lead discussion units, provide office hours, grade tests and staff research labs. The work stoppage was among the largest in the nation in an era of American workplace upheaval, and, according to the U.A.W., the largest at a university in U.S. history.
In a statement, Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California, called the tentative deal “a positive step forward” that would restore a work force that is integral to the university and its students. “These agreements will place our graduate student employees among the best supported in public higher education,” he said.
Late last month, the university reached separate five-year agreements with two other bargaining units representing about 12,000 academic researchers and postdoctoral employees, generally more senior workers whose pay was underwritten by research grants and federal funding. But that deal still left three-quarters of the striking employees without an agreement.