The University of California academic workers have gone on strike due to a disagreement about pay and benefits.
A staggering 48,000 UC teaching assistants, postdoctoral employees, graders, and researchers have expressed their anger about the current status of their salary and benefits. They are currently seeking to secure increases for the minimum salary and much more, highlighting that they do not currently make nearly enough money to actually live within the state of California — this being due to taxes and the overall cost of living making it very difficult for those working in various sectors to continue working.
“At every turn, the university has sought to act unlawfully at the bargaining table, which is preventing us from reaching an agreement,” explained the president of UAW Local 5810, Neal Sweeney. This union currently officially represents a total of 11,000 UC academic researchers and postdoctoral employees.
The UAW also stated that the strike being held at the University of California is currently the largest academic walkout in the history of higher education for the country, explained a report for The Washington Post.
“We’re the ones who perform the majority of the teaching, and we’re the ones who perform the majority of the research,” stated one doctoral candidate for the University of California, Los Angeles, Rafael Jaime. Jaime is currently the president of U.A.W. Local 2865, a group that stands for over 19,000 workers.
“We’re the backbone of the university,” he stated, as reported by The New York Times, “and I have a hard time seeing how operations are going to be maintained with us on the picket line.”
Jaime stated that he does not currently make enough money to even live in an apartment in Westwood next to the school, forcing him to live in the downtown area while splitting the insane cost with two roommates.
The cost of living sits well over 49% above the national average in Los Angeles, California, as stated in reports from Payscale. The housing sits at 129% more, which goes along with utilities and groceries are 7% and 13% higher, respectively.
“UC’s primary goal in these negotiations is multiyear agreements that recognize these employees’ important and highly valued contributions to UC’s teaching and research mission with fair pay, quality health and family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment,” expressed the university system via its website regarding the strike and the various talks with the United Auto Workers.
“UC believes its offers are generous, responsive to union priorities, and recognize the many valuable contributions of these employees,” it went on, stating its “proposals include pay increases, expanded paid leaves, increased family support and child care benefits” for a number of positions.
This strike could end up negatively impacting all students as they try to get ready to write their final exams.