Across multiple University of California campuses, teaching assistants, researchers, tutors, readers and graduate workers have gone on strike, making it the most extensive work stoppage of the year with many wondering what kind of impact this could leave.
Universities striking across California have made headlines throughout the United States. Making this the “largest academic strike in higher education in U.S. history.” This strike occurred on Monday, Nov. 14th, when employees walked off their jobs that morning demanding higher pay, improved working conditions and more.
The United Auto Workers union represents the UC graduate students, teaching assistants and more. Professors in this union conducted a systemwide labor strike at all 10 UC campuses. They have agreed to continue the strike until the UAW and UC resolve their differences at the bargaining table.
During this strike, many professors have canceled classes, and truck drivers have refused to cross picket lines to deliver packages. This is the largest academic strike in higher education history, which could lead to an overwhelming financial impact and amount to several hundred million dollars per year.
This strike comes after more than 50 bargaining sessions in which employees expressed their emotions and desires for change. Many are fighting for an annual salary of $54,000 for graduate workers, $70,000 for postdoctoral workers, and increased child-care benefits.
Alongside significant pay increases and enhanced healthcare, workers are also demanding more extended family leave, public transit passes and lower tuition costs for international students. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The unions are also asking that their pay be tied to increases in the local cost of living, including housing so that no one pays more than 30% of their salary towards housing costs.”
The UCs have tried to negotiate with the employees by offering a salary scale increase of 7% in the first year, with an additional 3% in each subsequent year for teaching assistants and tutors. UCs have stated that they would increase pay by up to 17%, depending on the union.
The UC office keeps peace with the UAW and has been trying to reach agreements with the union’s leadership for all four bargaining units. They’ve recently become responsive to the unions’ concerns and have focused on addressing the most critical issues raised during the negotiations.
The union has also requested that the university reimburse visa fees. University negotiators have also been able to offer child-care stipends between $2,500 and $4,050 per year along with some transit subsidies. On the workers’ side, some workers receive $3,300 in child-care subsidies a year.
This strike occurring across the 10 UC campuses has caused thousands of students to miss class and thus, fail to receive an education. If the strike continues, it could have a massive impact on students’ final exam grades.
UC officials made a statement on the progress of their negotiations, saying they remain “committed to continuing its good-faith efforts to reach agreements with the UAW as quickly as possible.”
The UC Santa Cruz newsletter states, “We support the right of these employees to strike, and the campus is also taking steps to sustain the continuity of its research and instructional operations.” UC Santa Cruz supports the workers’ reasoning to strike, and the university is looking for ways to contribute to all workers’ needs.
As the UC strike continues to make headlines and heads into almost a week of striking to ensure a better working environment for students, better pay for all employees and more, students across the 10 UC campuses have joined in the leadership of this movement. Current updates on the UC strike can be found daily on the Los Angeles Times website.