Our teaching assistants are part of a union, and the University of California has to negotiate with the union to write up a contract that protects our TAs. The benefit of a union is that it ensures all TAs are paid fairly, that there is no discrimination in pay, and that grad students are given a voice on campus.
But the TAs have a problem. Their contract with the UC ran out last month, and the UC has not been negotiating in good faith with the union on the terms of a new contract. So the union agreed to temporarily extend the old contract and to keep negotiations going so they can reach some kind of agreement. But last week the negotiators representing the TAs went to meet the people representing the UC, and the university people didn’t even officially sit down with the TAs.
There are a lot of us out there who would like to go to grad school, and a lot of us will work as TAs. Our fear is that the UC is trying to break the union, and that by the time we get to grad school TAs will receive even less compensation, have fewer opportunities, and be less able to stand up for themselves. The University of California prides itself on being the best public university anywhere, but already the TAs and grad students are under-compensated when compared to other public university systems.
We are asking grad students to fight back now. We understand if you’re almost done with your degree and you don’t think it’s worth stirring things up – but please remember that you’re also representing the next wave of grad students and TAs, and if you don’t fight back now, we’re really going to be hurting later.
We are asking undergrads to talk to your TAs. Ask them about their contract. Ask them what they think of the negotiations. Ask them about how much work they do and for how little money. And most of all, we are asking you to let your TAs know that you support them.
If you’re reading this in discussion section, ask them right now.
We are asking undergrads to support grad students if they decide that a strike is necessary. Remember, they are fighting for those of us who want to be grad students later.
There is another negotiating session today (Tuesday), and we ask the university to negotiate with the TAs in good faith, because they deserve it.
KRISTINE JOY SUNGA LALIC
TATIANA MOANA BUSH
BELEN XITALLI HERNANDEZ
THERESA QUYEN THLANG