As of 4:36 a.m. press time, the University of California has yet to establish a new contract with a union representing various teaching assistants and tutors – a move which may cause the campus employees to strike today.

The United Auto Workers Local 2865, a labor union which represents over 12,000 TAs, readers and tutors in the UC system, negotiated with University representatives into the early hours of this morning in an effort to broker a deal for increased pay and avoid the threatened strike. UAW representatives agreed to extend their current contract, which expired at midnight, on an hour-by-hour basis during extended negotiations for increased pay. The last official announcement from UAW’s Web site stated that the contract was extended until 4 a.m. this morning.

The union began the process of filing unfair labor practice charges against the UC on Sept. 27. Union workers claim the University has conducted unfair bargaining and stalled during negotiations.

As of Sept. 28, according to the UAW website, 6,154 UAW members signed a public statement demanding the UC practice fair tactics and resolve a contract by the deadline.

The UAW 2865 Web site places the current yearly TA salary at an average of $15,610.50 per academic year. For UCSB graduate students living off-campus, the UC Office of the President’s 2007-08 expense budget for graduate students estimates the yearly living cost at $30,284.

The contract between the UC Board of Regents and the union was forged last October. The union, which began negotiating contracts in March, alleges that its members are not paid wages high enough to sustain the costs of living.

According to a press release, UAW has claimed it would consider calling for a strike if its demands, which also include better healthcare and childcare benefits, were not met.

In June, UAW TAs held a “grade-in” on campus, correcting student papers in the Arbor in an effort to improve working conditions and draw attention to workload rights – two of the issues on the bargaining table.

A similar standoff took place in 2003 when the union threatened to strike during finals week and the University avoided the situation by signing a new agreement following last-minute negotiations.

Shauna Woods, a second-year history major, said she agreed with the union’s cause.

“I really hope the TAs get the recognition and financial support they deserve,” Woods said. “I just wish I knew whether or not to go to section.”

As of press time, UC officials were not available for comment.