20 votes

48,000 UC graduate student workers go on strike

7 comments

  1. [4]
    Fal
    Link
    link to petition and other info So far here at UCSD the strike seems to be going well; almost all discussions have been cancelled as TAs go on strike. Other than a couple incidents where strikers...

    link to petition and other info

    So far here at UCSD the strike seems to be going well; almost all discussions have been cancelled as TAs go on strike. Other than a couple incidents where strikers harassed or tried to stop professors and undergrads from going to lecture, the strike, as far as I can tell, is generally supported by professors and undergrads.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      ducc
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I’m also at UCSD (hello!). As another anecdote, my professors and IAs have been generally supportive / participating as well. I do hope the university will bargain in good faith, but that doesn’t...

      I’m also at UCSD (hello!). As another anecdote, my professors and IAs have been generally supportive / participating as well. I do hope the university will bargain in good faith, but that doesn’t seem to be happening as of yet.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        Fal
        Link Parent
        Unsure if you're an undergrad like me, but how have the strikes affected your classes? For me, its mostly just been cancelled discussions, although the final essay for one of my classes was made...

        Unsure if you're an undergrad like me, but how have the strikes affected your classes? For me, its mostly just been cancelled discussions, although the final essay for one of my classes was made optional.

        3 votes
        1. ducc
          Link Parent
          I'm also an undergrad. I've had virtually no discussions for the past couple of weeks, and most of my finals moved online.

          I'm also an undergrad. I've had virtually no discussions for the past couple of weeks, and most of my finals moved online.

          3 votes
  2. rosco
    Link
    I'm so excited to see how much traction the strike has picked up! I was a graduate student at in the UC system during the pre-pandemic wildcat strikes and it just warms my heart to see it expand...

    I'm so excited to see how much traction the strike has picked up! I was a graduate student at in the UC system during the pre-pandemic wildcat strikes and it just warms my heart to see it expand across the entire UC system.

    For those out of the loop, graduate student labor is a fundamental pillar of academia. Universities have been exporting more and more of the actual business of teaching to graduate students over the years and doing almost nothing to compensate them for it. In California, graduate students at state schools (i.e. San Diego State or Cal Poly) receive $14,000 dollars a year in stipend for full time teaching/research positions, the University of California (i.e. Berkeley or UCLA) system is better at around $24,000 a year. This is below the poverty line and it is absurd to think that these wages are livable by any means, let alone in major urban centers where the universities are located. There were jokes about graduate students flocking to free food in the 90s (read, food insecure) and cost of living has skyrocketed since then with little to no increase in wages.

    During the UCSC wildcat strike in early 2020, the University spent 5.7 million dollars on a week of police presence, 1/4th of the funds needed to cover the annual cost of living requests made by the graduate students. Peacefully protesting students were battered and arrested. The chancellor at the time - who is publicly a fervent advocate of food insecurity - quipped that Santa Cruz had ample food banks throughout the city.

    If you are currently enrolled in university, particularly in the University of California system, please do your part to support their efforts and get the word out!

    7 votes
  3. [2]
    Fal
    Link
    Tentative agreement struck between UC and postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers, but strike to continue

    Tentative agreement struck between UC and postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers, but strike to continue

    Strikes are expected to continue into their third week at campuses throughout the University of California system, even as officials there announced that tentative agreements have been reached between the universities and their postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers.

    Union representatives affirmed their intentions Tuesday to not cross the line for the 36,000 graduate student workers that still have not reached an agreement with university officials.

    Postdoctoral students and researchers account for roughly 12,000 of the some 48,000 academic workers that have been on strike since Nov. 14 in what has been described as the largest academic strike in history.

    Workers have been asking for not only increased pay and benefits but also childcare subsidies, better healthcare for dependents and greater financial support for international scholars. The new, five-year contracts for postdoctoral scholars and researchers address compensation, job security and family leave, according to the university system.

    Postdoctoral scholars are expected to see implementation of a new salary scale in April with average salary increases of 8%, annual reimbursement for childcare expenses up to $2,500 and paid leave of up to eight weeks.

    Meanwhile, researchers should expect pay increases of 4.5% in the first year, 3.5% in the second, third and fourth years and 4% in the fifth year of the contract. Additionally, they will receive the same eight weeks of paid leave and increased bereavement leave.

    3 votes
    1. Eidolon
      Link Parent
      That's good news but I'm glad they are not relenting yet until a conclusive outcome is reached. At a university in my country (New Zealand), the unionised workers are now refusing to enter grades...

      That's good news but I'm glad they are not relenting yet until a conclusive outcome is reached. At a university in my country (New Zealand), the unionised workers are now refusing to enter grades into the system, after previous failed actions. It's so sad that it had to come to this point but it is clear that it is a systemic problem impacting universities everywhere.

      I definitely experienced it when I did postgrad work, as there were plenty of tactics that were used to avoid paying reasonable wages. One was to pay per essay graded, rather than per hour worked. I had to mark 3000 word advanced level papers at the same rate as if I was marking 1000 word first year papers, but with so much more time expended than 3000 word papers. All up it amounted to a lot less than the legal minimum wage. The culture was that it was a privileged position to be in, so therefore being exploited was completely acceptable and a normal part of advancing through the structures of paid work in an academic setting. The irony is that I was grading on topics like legal ethics, employment law, concepts of fairness etc. but received nothing of the kind! I was under no illusions that university was for the most part run like a degree factory for profit rather than an institution of learning with a social and critical conscience.

      5 votes