The United Auto Workers Local 2865 (UAW) union — which represents nearly 12,000 UC academic student employees, including teaching assistants — recently elected a new governing party after a contested election. Academic Workers for Democratic Union (AWDU) won all 10 positions in the union’s Executive Board.

“It’s the biggest change our union has seen,” said UCSC graduate student Sara Smith, who was recently elected northern vice president on the Executive Board.

United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ), ran against AWDU and is comprised of many incumbents from the previous Executive Board and campus branches of UAW Local 2865.

Filiberto Nolasco, UC Santa Barbara UAW head chair and USEJ member, said AWDU caused many problems in the election, and hopes the union has the integrity to address those issues. The election faced poll station shutdowns, biased election committee members, intimidation tactics and suspicious envelopes, Nolasco said.

“There’s a lot of diverse opinions on how to run the union and these differences need to be recognized,” Nolasco said.

The new Executive Board held its first meeting on Sunday and is planning a meeting open to all union members this Saturday.

AWDU plans to work with other unions and UC workers, in addition to fostering a network between campuses within UAW Local 2865.

“Now there’s a lot of potential to transform our union [into one] that’s more effective in winning stronger contracts,” Smith said.