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Davis, California

Friday, July 12, 2024

UC Davis graduate students in support of COLA to withhold Winter Quarter grades beginning Feb. 27

The grading strike, a “wildcat” action, marks escalation in UC Davis cost of living adjustment (COLA) movement

After the UC Davis cost of living adjustment (COLA) movement general assembly on Feb. 25, graduate students in the COLA movement decided to withhold grades for Winter Quarter. 

The announcement makes UC Davis’ COLA movement the third to go on a wildcat strike — a strike without the approval of the graduate student union’s leadership. The graduate student instructors are now pledging to withhold grades, following in the footsteps of their peers at UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara. UCSC’s COLA movement announced a full strike on Feb. 10, with supporters stopping all teaching, research and grading; this marked an escalation from an earlier Fall Quarter grade withholding strike. UCSB announced a full strike on Feb. 24. 

Graduate students at UC Davis have not announced a full strike.

The COLA movement, a push by graduate students for higher wages to offset increasing costs of living that began with UC Santa Cruz graduate students, is now UC-wide. 

According to a statement from UC Davis COLA organizers, over 60% of teaching assistant respondents — which amounts to over 300 individuals — supported the strike to express solidarity with UCSC strikers and to advance their own list of demands at UC Davis.

Support for the movement extends beyond graduate students, according to a statement from the COLA organizers on their Twitter account, @ucd4cola.

“Almost 800 undergraduates, faculty and other supporters committed to showing up at demonstrations, helping to organize departments, building coalitions and to growing the campus COLA struggle,” UCD4COLA said. 

After the people in support of the movement presented their demands to Chancellor Gary May on Feb. 21, the movement’s organizers pledged to go on a grading strike should any UCSC strikers be terminated from their positions. 

UC President Janet Napolitano said on Feb. 14 that Feb. 21 was the deadline for strikers at UCSC to submit grades or face consequences, potentially including the loss of their jobs. After solidarity strikes were held UC-wide on Feb. 21, UCSC External Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer released a new statement moving that date to Feb. 27. The UCSC strikers are considering themselves effectively terminated from their jobs unless they hear otherwise.

Melissa Lutz Blouin, the director of UC Davis News and Media Relations, provided a statement to The California Aggie on Feb. 23 that said the UC Davis administration welcomes dialogue about how UC Davis graduate students can be supported.  

“It would be unfortunate should our undergraduate students have to bear the consequences of a decision like the one proposed by UCD4COLA,” Blouin said. 

The strikes have not been organized by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865, which represents graduate student workers. A Feb. 25 statement released by UAW 2865, however, said the union demanded on Jan. 15 that the UC come to bargain. The offer has not been accepted.

“Graduate workers at every campus in the UC system are rent burdened, according to criteria laid out by the federal government,” said UAW 2865 President Kavitha Iyengar. “We are past the point of short term fixes. UC needs to do the right thing and come to the bargaining table, where we can establish a permanent, equitable solution for all student workers at UC.”

Written by: Janelle Marie Salanga — campus@theaggie.org


  1. For Blouin to say that “It would be unfortunate should our undergraduate students have to bear the consequences of a decision like the one proposed by UCD4COLA,” is absolutely tone deaf to what she should be supporting. The campus should be there to support their graduate students who are forced to bear the consequences of decisions made by UC’s heads. You want your university to serve the undergrads as it should? Then make sure that those who are there teaching them are paid the wage they deserve and can put their all into their work as instructors.


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