UAW Affiliation FAQs

CAPS-UAW Affiliation Agreement Ratification Vote 

Closes March 31, 2024 at 11:30pm!

CAPS-UAW Affiliation Agreement Ratification Vote: Now Open!

This page is updated by CAPS Leadership as questions and feedback come in. Last updated: 03/27/2024.

Have a question about the CAPS-UAW Affiliation Agreement or the ratification vote that isn’t answered below? Fill out this form.


What does it mean to affiliate with UAW?

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) has a long history of fighting for, and winning, better wages, benefits, and working conditions for its members. The UAW has more than 400,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. 

Since its founding during the Great Depression and the “Sit-Down” Strikes of the 1930s, the UAW has continuously demonstrated they are a union that leads the struggle to secure economic and social justice for all people, including the working class. The diversity of workers the UAW represents demonstrates endless opportunities for California State Scientists to collaborate and expand our collective strength across sectors.

In recent years, CAPS has witnessed UAW make history numerous times, through their collective actions, organizing campaigns, and ‘one member one vote’ change to UAW leadership elections.

The UAW has long been a leader in the struggle to secure economic and social justice for all people including active involvement in the struggles for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality, workplace safety, environmental protections, and many more.

The UAW prides itself on its democratic heritage and the International UAW Constitution is carefully crafted and designed to secure each member their full democratic right, both as an individual and through their elected representatives. CAPS leadership is working to build a culture of democracy and solidarity within our union, and believe the UAW is the perfect fit for us. 

How will affiliating impact our position at the bargaining table?

California State Scientists have continuously been disrespected by our employer, the Governor of the State of California. It’s time for radical change, to reset our relationship with our employer, and to demand the respect that we deserve. It’s up to us to reset the narrative. There is such a thing as too late. 

CAPS made history in November with our 3-day “Defiance for Science” Strike on November 15-17, 2023, as California’s first state civil service employee union to strike, ever. The State responded by using scare tactics to intimidate our members from striking, attempting to discipline our members who went on strike, and filing an unfair labor practice against us…trying to quash our motivation, collective strength, and our ability to strike. 

Last year, we sponsored AB 1677, which would have required the UC Berkeley Labor Center to perform an impartial study to examine the existing State Scientist salary structure, evaluate historical salary relationships with other state employees performing substantially similar work, and provide recommendations, if applicable, for alternate salary models for rank-and-file State Scientists. The Governor lied in his veto statement and accused the Bill of circumventing the collective bargaining process, even though the proposed Bill language clearly stated that any increase in compensation had to be implemented through the bargaining process, as required by State law. This is just another example of our employer choosing to ignore the inequities we have faced for far too long, and treat us as if we don’t exist. 

By affiliating with the UAW, we will have the support of UAW International staff (and members in other UAW Local Unions) who have experience bargaining for scientists/researchers in higher education, implementing successful contract campaigns and strikes against large powerful public employers like the University of California, and winning historic contracts. We will also have immediate access to the UAW International Union Strike and Defense Fund, which currently has a net worth of over $800 million. The UAW Strike and Defense Fund provides one of the best strike fund benefits of any international union: $500/week for members in good standing and participating in a sanctioned strike. It would take CAPS many years to build up an equivalent strike fund benefit for just a month-long strike.

In 2023 alone, multiple UAW Local Unions ran bold contract campaigns to win historic contracts through rigorous organizing and mass member participation, including the University of Washington researcher strike, a massive strike threat at University of Southern California, a strike at Washington State University that only lasted 3 hours, and the “Stand Up Strike” against the Big 3 automakers (Ford, Chevy, Stellantis) that received significant media attention and captured the imagination of the American public. In 2022, postdocs, academic researchers, and other academic workers at the University of California had a historic 6-week strike that resulted in large gains in pay and benefits.

A significant portion of the UAW dues go towards the Strike and Defense Fund, which creates additional leverage at the bargaining table by helping State Scientists build the capacity to financially sustain a strike and withhold labor until a fair contract is reached, if necessary. Governor Newsom and his administration cannot ignore the threat of a credible strike that could shut down the scientific engine of the California state government.

The strength, power, and clout of the UAW is unmatched. Our fight is their fight and their fight is our fight. 

Is there any precedence for state employees?

UAW Local 6000 represents Michigan State employees. Local 6000 represents approximately 15,000 members in 1,200 worksites throughout the State of Michigan.

Is there any precedence for scientists?

Yes! Many California State Scientists actually came from UAW locals throughout California. Most notably, UAW Local 5810 and UAW Local 2865, who represent workers at institutions of higher education employing academic researchers. The UAW recognizes the value of interconnected workers, across all sectors, in the fight to preserve and promote scientific integrity, expand quality scientific programs that will ensure a sustainable and equitable future for all, and effectively fight climate change. This starts with advancing the general interests and working conditions for all working people, including California State Scientists. 

Region 6 Director Mike Miller said “as workers, we really have an opportunity to inject class struggle into the fight against climate change.” 

What is the process to affiliate?

We are currently in it. CAPS elected leadership has negotiated an affiliation agreement with representatives from the UAW. Affiliation is subject to membership approval of the terms of affiliation, pursuant to the process outlined in Article III of the CAPS Bylaws which requires a majority of eligible members to vote for quorum. This means a simple majority (over 50%) of all CAPS members (Rank and File, Supervisory, Managerial, and Retirees) must submit a ballot. Of those ballots submitted, there needs to be a simple majority of yes votes to affiliate.

A membership vote of approval from a majority of members returning ballots shall constitute application for and acceptance of CAPS as a UAW local union charter governed by the terms of the affiliation agreement.  

What would affiliation look like?

The UAW and CAPS leadership have agreed to a transition period to provide us the opportunity to phase in dues increases, as well as give us time to maintain our existing internal structure, while carefully crafting necessary modifications that remain fully consistent with the democratic values of our union. The UAW’s flexibility on this, and on other issues related to affiliation, strongly suggests that it will not be difficult to achieve that goal. 

Who decides whether we affiliate?

CAPS members will decide whether they want to affiliate with the UAW. Should the membership vote to affiliate, the affiliation agreement shall become effective. Should the membership decline to affiliate, CAPS will continue as an independent union. 

I am currently being represented by CAPS contracted professional labor representatives against the state/my employer. How would that affect my situation if we affiliate? 

CAPS leadership will work with our current contracted professional labor representatives and UAW representatives to ensure there is no lapse in representation. For situations such as cases in front of the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) or the State Personnel Board (SPB), Skelly Hearings, and anything going to arbitration, we will ensure the necessary legal representation is provided in coordination with UAW representatives and CAPS attorneys.

Ultimately, immediately post-affiliation we will begin to develop our union stewardship program. Union stewards will consist of members who volunteer or are voted-in to represent their co-workers, after receiving appropriate training. We will be working closely with experienced UAW representatives and our experienced consultants who will serve as mentors throughout this process. 

Why Stewards?

Members are the union, and it’s critical to empower members into becoming effective stewards, to build a stronger union! A survey by the Wilson Center for Public Interest explored how workers view the value of unions. The study found that union members who have effective stewards are: 

  • Significantly more likely to feel the union is effective in helping obtain job-related improvements.
  • Much more likely to feel their union representative cares about them.
  • More likely to approve of grievance handling – and to file grievances.
  • Much more likely to turn to the union – rather than to management – to solve contract-related problems.
  • More optimistic about the negotiating ability of their local.
  • More likely to see the importance of the union’s organizing efforts.
  • More likely to volunteer to participate in union activities.

A strong steward program is key to making the union visible to workers, but also to management. The steward program will grow through the work of CAPS elected leadership, the Representation Committee, Local Representatives, the Member Action Committee, and the Contract Action Team (CAT).

How will affiliation impact dues?

After affiliation, CAPS will begin transitioning into an equitable dues structure. UAW members pay dues in an amount determined by their pay structure and whether they have a legal right to strike.  Dues are set by UAW Constitutional Convention delegates. Dues vary depending on the net worth of the International Strike and Defense Fund. 

The UAW Strike and Defense Fund currently has a net worth of ~$800 million. Therefore, dues for CAPS members with a legal right to strike (i.e., Rank & File) will be 1.44% of gross straight time monthly wages, and dues for CAPS members without a legal right to strike (i.e., Supervisors & Managers) will be 1.095% of gross straight time monthly wages.

Once the UAW Strike and Defense Fund reaches $850 million, the lower dues structure shall become effective (1.15% of gross wages for Rank & File, or 0.805% of gross wages for Supervisors and Managers), unless the Strike and Defense Fund drops to $650 million at which time the higher dues structure will be in effect until the Strike and Defense Fund once again reaches $850 million.

For a detailed breakdown on how CAPS-UAW affiliation would impact dues, by each classification, see our dues breakdown spreadsheet.

Local Union Fund: CAPS will continue to do most of the work enforcing the contract and representing members. This fund is used to support budget expenses of CAPS, including the many activities within our communities. A large portion of dues is also rebated back to CAPS, which increases the % of dues for the Local Union Fund (see Rebate, below).

International General Fund:  UAW International staff will support CAPS in bargaining, contract enforcement and grievances, organizing, and other operations, as determined by CAPS. The International UAW pays for membership education, communication, and organizing – programs geared toward building the union’s strength when it comes to negotiating our pay and benefits. UAW’s legal, social security, research, and health and safety departments provide expert assistance to help negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements.

Strike and Defense Fund: A well-funded Strike and Defense Fund puts employers, like the State of California, on notice that UAW members have the resources to strike, if necessary, to win important bargaining demands. It has proven again and again that being prepared to strike can be the most effective way to avoid a strike. That’s why few UAW contract settlements have involved strikes. 

CAP: The Community Action Program (CAP) of the UAW is the union’s non-partisan political arm. It’s not just about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about building political power for UAW members, and the whole working class. CAP educates members, both active and retired, on political issues that affect them and their families. With 100,000 UAW academic workers (including postdocs, researchers, and scientists) across the US, we will have a strong local and national voice on issues like public workers rights and science funding. 

Rebate from Strike and Defense Fund: The UAW International Union provides “rebates” of roughly 50% of our Strike and Defense Fund contributions back to the Local Union Fund to use in our daily operations, when the Strike and Defense Fund is  $500,000 or greater.  What this means is about 40-50% of total dues collected each month would be available to fund the Local Union depending on the dues formula. 

Through the agreement we’ve negotiated with the UAW, we will have the support of the UAW to ensure that we are able to meet our current financial needs, after much consideration and analysis, over months of discussion.

How volatile is the UAW strike fund?

Based on discussions with the UAW, the overall financial health of the UAW Strike and Defense Fund has been strong for many years – rebates will continue to be provided for the foreseeable future and it’s possible the net worth of the Strike and Defense Fund will reach $850 million by the time our dues phase-in is complete.

What are some examples of resources from the International Union, UAW?

Upon affiliation, CAPS and its members will be entitled to use of all UAW resources on the same basis otherwise available to a UAW local union, including services of UAW International staff representatives and the assistance and expertise of UAW departments, such as Legal, Research, Organizing, Education, and many more.*  

UAW International staff are also UAW members themselves and often former UAW Local Union leaders, so they have direct experience in the shoes of the workers they represent, which is an important component of the UAW.  For example: many of the UAW International staff have direct experience bargaining with the University of California and the historic higher education strike that occurred in 2022, and they can take that experience to help support CAPS.

Upon affiliation, members with the legal right to strike shall be eligible for strike benefits from the UAW Strike and Defense Fund.  We will have the ability to aggressively and determinedly negotiate, and win big, via the legitimate and credible strike threat the UAW Strike and Defense Fund provides. 

*Other departments include: Social Security, Community Services, Time Study, Education, Auditing, Arbitration, Community Action Programs, Health and Safety, Public Relations, Civil Rights, Women’s, Consumer Affairs, and Technical, Office and Professional.

Can I vote using a proxy? 

CAPS Bylaws, Article III, Section 5.b of prohibits proxy voting. However, the vote will be conducted electronically over email and will be open for 13 days. People traveling who have to access their email during that time frame can access their ballot and vote.

Member Submitted Questions

Did CAPS leadership look into other unions for potential affiliation?

Yes, CAPS leadership looked at several other International Unions and determined UAW was the best fit for CAPS membership after extensive research that has been ongoing for over a year. Our research focused on reviewing the union’s governing documents, assessing leadership structure, union culture, history and reputation, democratic practices, political and legislative advocacy, union representation of scientists and public sector workers, and member resources. 

UAW shares similar goals, values, and priorities as CAPS. UAW acknowledges the critical strength of the membership, and the value of using the union’s resources to maintain a credible strike threat, through their robust Strike and Defense Fund, to build the power workers need to get what they want and achieve change (a theory of change). Other International Unions we looked at that may have been a good fit for CAPS don’t even mention the word strike in their constitution, let alone have a strike fund. 

A quote from the great unionist Marshal Ganz come to mind: 

“To figure out the goal of your campaign you also have to figure out how you can make it happen: your theory of change. This is challenging because we all have assumptions about how the world works, including why we have the problems we do, what it would take to solve them, and what we can do to make it happen. Articulating a “theory of change” is a way of making these assumptions explicit so they can be examined, evaluated, and, if necessary, replaced with a more realistic set of assumptions. Your theory of change becomes the foundation of your strategy – how to turn the resources you have into the power you need to get what you want. To get at your theory of change, ask yourself why the problem you are hoping to solve hasn’t been solved already? In other words, what’s your theory of “no change”?”

Does the UAW International Executive Board have any say on if and how we affiliate?

The UAW International Executive Board voted to approve our affiliation agreement on Thursday, February 22nd. Our affiliation is according to the terms outlined in the affiliation agreement, that CAPS leadership negotiated with UAW leadership. Following an affirmative vote of CAPS members to affiliate with the UAW, the UAW will immediately charter CAPS as a Local Union.

Describe the UAW International Executive Boards oversight on our ability to strike?

A strike happens when workers from a UAW Local Union collectively decide to withhold their labor, after authorization from the UAW International Executive Board.  In the UAW, strikes are governed by the UAW Constitution, including Articles 12, 16 and 50 (see:  

The UAW International Executive Board would be required to approve any future CAPS strikes (see Article 50 of the UAW Constitution) after a two-thirds majority vote by secret ballot of those voting (only rank-and-file State Scientists of Bargaining Unit 10 would be eligible to participate) to request strike authorization from the International Executive Board. This is an additional layer of accountability, to ensure any strike authorization vote is done democratically and is legitimate. No other UAW members from other Local Unions would determine whether or not CAPS could go on strike. 

The UAW International Executive Board has demonstrated, especially over the last two years, that they value strikes as a crucial and powerful tool in advancing the interests of working people. The UAW’s perspective on strikes reflects a commitment to collective action and the belief that workers, when united, can influence positive change in their working conditions and overall well-being.

How would CAPS integrate with UAW, Region 6, as a local?

UAW Region 6 includes a supporting network of Local Unions, including unions that represent postdocs, academic researchers, and other scientists in higher education universities on the West Coast.  This includes experience working under the Higher Education Employer Employee Relations Act (HEERA), which is another public employment relations statute administered by PERB, similar to the Dills Act.  Many scientists from these UAW locals come to work for the State as a next step in their career, so there is a direct pipeline of UAW scientists from higher education to Bargaining Unit 10.

Region 6 has a Community Action Program (CAP) to democratically set legislative priorities with other scientists, researchers, and UAW members on the West Coast (e.g., UAW Region 6 currently prioritizes advocating for more science funding at the federal level, sponsored picket line protection bill in 2023 to allow public sector workers to sympathy strike, etc.)

Region 6 also hosts events such as Political Action & Leadership Conferences and Summer School to train Local Union delegates on a range of important areas: organizing, bargaining, strike readiness, member participation, direct action, UAW history, political action, grievances, communications, and more.

What is our voting membership total? 

As of March 4, there are 4,007 active CAPS members.

If other UAW workers strike, are we obligated to sympathy strike?


How would we be taxed on receiving any strike funds?

Strike pay ‘income’ would be offset by decreased salary income as a result of striking. Strike benefits are taxable, after $600 in a given year, the UAW will issue an IRS Form 1099-MISC. More information can be found at

What percentage of wage reimbursement does the International Strike and Defense Fund cover, if we strike and for how long? 

$500 per week, starting on the 1st day of a strike, which is one of the best strike fund benefits of any International Union. See for more information on UAW Strike Assistance provided via the International Strike and Defense Fund.

How would affiliation impact the autonomy of our union?

Affiliating will allow us to improve and build upon our union’s democracy. Affiliation with UAW does not impact our union’s status as an autonomous non-profit mutual benefit corporation representing Unit 10 in California State civil service, as was established by our Articles of Incorporation in 1984. Section 6 of our affiliation agreement acknowledges that our Articles of Incorporation will not change as a result of the affiliation.

Our Articles of Incorporation state that the specific and primary purposes of this corporation (CAPS) are:

  1. to represent employees in State Service who are in classifications assigned by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to the Professional Scientific Unit, Unit 10, in their employee and labor relations with the State by providing services deemed necessary and appropriate to such representation; and 
  2. to promote the interests of professional scientists in state service. 

UAW recognizes that CAPS is a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation organized under the Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation Law and it is subject to applicable existing and future laws by reason of such status. Nothing in the Affiliation Agreement is intended to change or otherwise impact on such status.

How will we ensure our budget is going to cover our current operating costs, as well as the requirements of the affiliation agreement?

CAPS leadership has done extensive budget analyses and worked specifically with UAW when developing our affiliation agreement to ensure that we can meet our budgetary needs and obligations. UAW has been incredibly flexible and sensitive to our budgetary concerns and are willing to work with us to ensure CAPS is able to fulfill all of our financial responsibilities as a Local Union.

What are some examples of UAW wins for Scientists? 

In 2022, Postdocs, Academic Researchers, Academic Student Employees at the University of California won a record contract (UAW Local 5810 and Local 2865)

UC Postdocs will become the highest-paid Postdocs at a US university, with up to 57% salary increases, fully paid family leave for 8 weeks, $2,800/ year for childcare subsidies, among other benefits, and UC Academic Researchers won up to 34% salary increases.

In their 2023 contract, Postdocs and Academic Researchers at the University of Washington won big (UAW Local 4121)

UW Postdocs raised their salary floor by 37% and UW Academic Researcher raised their salary floor by 28%, plus general salary increases and other benefits.

In 2024, Academic Student Employees at Washington State University won their contract demands after just a 3 hour strike (UAW Local 4591)

Academic Student Employees won up to 49% increase to base salary, six weeks of paid parental leave, lowered out-of-pocket costs for healthcare.

These UAW Local Unions that represent scientists are WINNING by striking or with the threat of a credible strike, and raising the standards for scientists across the industry.  As an affiliate of UAW, we will have their support to fight for pay equity and win the contract we deserve.

UAW is actively organizing unorganized scientists and other workers in higher education across the West Coast and United States. Check out the UAW Region 6 Newsletter for information about all of their organizing efforts, contract campaigns and wins.

What are the quorum requirements for affiliation?

The minimum vote participation required to meet quorum is a majority (over 50%) membership vote participation. Of the participating voting members, a simple majority (over 50%) have to vote “yes” for the affiliation agreement to be ratified. More information can be found at the UAW Affiliation Vote webpage.

What’s in it for UAW?

The UAW and CAPS have a shared interest in expanding the power of organized labor and the power we have, collectively, to influence positive change for all Scientists and workers throughout California. 

Why wouldn’t UAW want State Scientists to be part of their union? And why wouldn’t State Scientists want to be part of UAW? Many California State Scientists actually came from UAW locals throughout California. Most notably, UAW Local 5810 and UAW Local 2865 (now UAW 4811), represent workers at institutions of higher education employing academic researchers who conduct research that informs the work of State Scientists within the California State government.  

The UAW recognizes the value of interconnected workers, across all sectors, in the fight to preserve and promote scientific integrity, expand quality scientific programs that will ensure a sustainable and equitable future for all, and effectively fight climate change. This starts with advancing the general interests and working conditions for all working people, including California State Scientists. 

Will dues decrease for rank-and-file employees to the same percentage as supervisors and managers, if a no-strike clause is in effect?  

No. Public employees have the presumptive right to strike in California, subject to certain limitations. Strikes by public employees for specific reasons are indeed legal in California as defined by PERB, whereas a “no strike clause” is a contractual obligation not to engage in strikes or to advocate for them unless and until impasse is officially determined for both parties by PERB. Pre-impasse strikes may also be protected if the union provides evidence to PERB that the strike was provoked by the employer’s unfair labor practices. More information on this topic can be found at the CAPS Bargaining Procedures webpage. Therefore, rank-and-file members have the “right to strike” as it relates to the dues rate in #12 of the Affiliation Agreement, even if we had a “no strike clause” in our contract (which we currently do not while at impasse), but supervisors and managers are prohibited from striking. 

Are there current UAW locals with no-strike clauses?  Does UAW have experience with that dynamic in public service?

Yes, there are UAW Local Unions that represent workers in the public sector with “no strike clauses” in their contracts (e.g., UAW Local 5810 and UAW Local 2865 at the University of California, and UAW Local 4123 at the California State University). In 2022, postdocs, academic researchers, and other academic workers at the University of California had a historic 6-week strike due to a successful legal strategy that included filing 35 unfair labor practice charges allowing for the strike to occur despite having “no strike clauses” in their current contracts. 

Is representing rank-and-file, supervisors, and managers a conflict of interest?

CAPS currently represents both rank-and-file and supervisory/managerial classifications. Upon affiliation with the UAW, CAPS would eventually be organized into three separate but amalgamated units, each with their own bodies of representation elected by their respective unit’s members. This would allow for more specialized representation for each of the units, and still allow us to collaborate on issues that affect all State Scientists.

Currently, the CAPS Board only has one supervisory director who chairs the Supervisor Representation Committee that represents both supervisors and managers, however, managers cannot choose their own representatives. If the membership votes to affiliate with UAW,  CAPS will be an Amalgamated Local Union of three separate units for rank-and-file, supervisors, and managers with proportional representation where you can vote for your own leadership and have autonomy on matters pertaining strictly to your unit.

Why are ballots only sent to my personal email?

Notices to vote will be sent to personal emails and phone numbers with information for members to access their personal secret ballot (via the ElectionBuddy online voting system), because we don’t want our employer to have any opportunity to interfere with the integrity of the vote. Members will also be sent a postcard to their home address currently on file with CAPS with an individualized QR code that can be scanned to access their personal secret ballot. The State can easily prevent electronic ballots from being received via work email, whether purposefully or not. 

What is the last date/time future members can sign up to be members to participate in the affiliation vote? 

Any State Scientist who is not a member by 11:59pm on March 17 will not be eligible to vote. Become a CAPS member by March 17 at 5pm to ensure you can cast your ballot between March 18 – 31st. 

Is the CAPS Board of Directors recommending a yes or a no vote?

The CAPS Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the CAPS-UAW Affiliation Agreement during the CAPS Board Meeting on February 24, 2024 and recommend the membership vote “yes” to affiliate with the UAW. 

How will we ensure the interests of State Scientists continue to be represented?

By affiliating with UAW, CAPS maintains autonomy as a Local Union of UAW and will continue to be dedicated to the employment and professional needs of State Scientists (as noted above), but with the added resources and political clout of UAW.

As a Local Union of UAW, the membership (State Scientists of Unit 10) would be the highest authority of CAPS and have more rights within our union democracy, pursuant to the UAW Constitution. Members will have the opportunity to elect more of their fellow State Scientists to represent them within CAPS (new positions would be created), and members will be able to take or direct any action of CAPS via membership meetings and votes (e.g., referendums, strike votes, contracts). 

Members from CAPS would also represent CAPS as delegates at UAW conventions, conferences, and committees to ensure that the interests of State Scientists are represented within the UAW.