After years of disagreement, the University Professional and Technical Employees union and University of California reached a five-year contract agreement concerning salary levels and benefits.

Approximately 9,000 UC research and professional employees will receive at least a 15 percent raise, according to the contract, which includes provisions to ensure adequate medical benefits and safety precautions during the next three years. The mutual agreement — ratified last Tuesday — is retroactively dated to include the 2008-09 academic year.

The union’s last contract with the UC expired two years ago on June 30.

Despite the UC’s financial quandary, Dwaine Duckett, the UC vice president for systemwide human resources, said in a press release that the administrators and UPTE members alike voted in favor of the agreement, hoping that it would promote “labor-management collaboration.”

“UPTE represented employees work hard to support the University and play a particularly important role in helping the UC carry out its research mission, and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement that acknowledges their contributions,” Duckett said in a press release. “The University also commends the union for recognizing the current fiscal crisis by ratifying a contract that gives UC the operational flexibility it needs to cope with these very difficult economic times.”

In addition to the gradual wage increases starting this year, the contract also calls for the establishment of a joint committee to assess the possible reemployment of those workers recently laid off.

UC spokesman Steve Montiel said the agreement exhibits a mutual understanding between the administration and the employees.

“It certainly demonstrates a recognition of the fiscal challenges the University is facing,” he said.