Striking Professors Want Higher Salaries: The union that represents the roughly 48,000 academic staff at the University of California system-wide campuses said that they walked off the job on Monday morning to demand better compensation and working conditions.
Academics Are on Strike Because They Want Pay Raises
In response to soaring housing prices, tens of thousands of academic staff across the University of California system struck on Monday. The protest affects approximately 48,000 unionized campus staff at the famed public university system. when Some instructors postponed classes or switched to Zoom to avoid crossing picket lines in the pro-labor state.
The university system’s 10 campuses, with over 300,000 students, will remain open and operate. However, the United Automobile Workers-represented students and staff constitute a primary labor force in university classrooms and labs, where most campuses are within a few weeks from final exams. The unions have no end date.
Graduate students have long advised students, taught lectures, graded examinations, and papers, and worked on significant research projects and labs at institutions across. However, in a heated post-pandemic labor market, concerted initiatives to raise salaries and improve sometimes unstable working conditions have gained traction.
Unions have exploited their bargaining leverage at Amazon and Starbucks this year, encouraged by surveys showing popular support for organized labor at its greatest level since the mid-1960s. The University of California strike is the greatest in U.S. history, according to the U.A.W.
Paula Voos, a professor at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, said the present economy is ideal for labor activity. ʼ But we’re afraid and business is cutting back and saying no.”
Three years ago, a “wildcat” strike at the University of California, Santa Cruz, without the support of the statewide union, resulted in the termination of more than 70 graduate students who refused to submit autumn grades. . At Columbia and New York Universities, unionized graduate students and adjunct teachers secured contracts this year.
However, Dr. Voos warned that the excess of graduate students, especially in the humanities, gives institutions leverage in labor negotiations. “Students are vulnerable because they need professor references, they’re worried for their future, and the academic labor market is not very strong right now,” she added.
Many University of California staff, who have been bargaining for over a year, want their pay to more than double, especially to cover housing costs. . in
State politicians and town-gown lawsuits have long debated campus housing. In a union poll, 92% of graduate student employees reported housing took over a third of their salary. 40% were over half.
in He rents with two roommates in downtown Los Angeles, more than 15 miles distant. Even so, he claimed, his $1,600 monthly rent takes half of his earnings, not including his bicycle, light rail, and bus commute to university.
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“We have listened closely to U.A.W. goals with an open mind and a true readiness to compromise,” the statement stated, adding that “many tentative agreements” on subjects like health and safety had been achieved.
On Monday afternoon, the university system said it had proposed that a neutral, third-party mediator be brought into the negotiations and that U.C. academic employees’ wages “would be among the top of the pay scale” for public research universities and “more comparable to private universities” like Harvard, MIT, and USC.
Major discrepancies persist.
Union leaders said the university system has broken labor rules about two dozen times in discussions, negotiating directly with select groups of workers and modifying working conditions without collective bargaining. Officials allege harsh work practices caused the strike.
“The university needs to bargain fairly,” said U.A.W. president Neal Sweeney. “
University management are attempting to intimidate UCU members ahead of taking strike action – we will not accept this
— UCU (@ucu) November 14, 2022
The university system denies any wrongdoing and urges unions to negotiate. “We are dedicated to continuing to negotiate in good faith and obtaining comprehensive agreements as quickly as possible,” the statement from the University of California added.
The strike disrupted operations on Monday. . A nanotechnology research facility at U.C. San Diego that employs 12 Ph.D., post-doctoral, and undergraduate students closed.
“U.C., U.C., you can’t hide!” hundreds of strikers shouted throughout U.C.L.A.’s huge campus, canceling Sociology 101, architecture, and other popular undergraduate programs. You’re greedy!”
U.C.L.A. fourth-year English doctorate candidate Enrique Olivares Pesante, who was picketing in front of the film building, said he earned $2,500 per month before taxes and pays more than half of that in rent for graduate housing. ц
Chaka Tellem, 21, the senior student body president at U.C. Berkeley, sympathized with the strike even though his macroeconomics and African American history lectures were canceled. “We are in a school that acknowledges, historically and to this day, the necessity of collective action, the importance of strikes and nonviolent direct action,” he stated.
Anthony Huo, 19, said he was preoccupied with determining if his next class will convene. “I think it’s happening,” he said, running across Berkeley’s historic campus in the fall. “Maybe? Try.”