The UCs must do better to prevent disruptions that affect the entire academic community
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
On Monday, Nov. 14, an estimated 48,000 academic workers across the UC academic system, including teaching assistants (TAs) and post-graduate students, went on strike in light of alleged “unlawful actions” on the part of the UC system. According to the United Auto Workers (UAW 2865) union, the strike is the largest at any academic institution in history.
UAW representatives are demanding higher wages, childcare subsidies, dependent healthcare, extended family and medical leave, sustainable public transportation passes, affordable tuition for international students and better campus accessibility for workers with disabilities.
As of today, graduate students, who serve as teaching assistants, earn about $24,000 a year for their services which include grading assignments, instructing classes, tutoring students and holding office hours. This type of work is time-consuming and can be difficult to manage on top of their academics. Their yearly salaries do not reflect their significant contributions to the UC system and are not enough to cover living expenses.
Additionally, some UC Davis academic workers at the picket line said that they have had to take on a second job to support themselves. For these reasons, those on strike are demanding an increase to a base salary of $54,000.
The Editorial Board stands in solidarity with striking academic workers. We believe their core demands are reasonable and that they should be paid a living wage. Every member of the Editorial Board has had a class or discussion section led by a TA, and we want to thank these workers for the important role they play in our education.
University worker protests against unfair labor practices are nothing new. In the past, the UCs have been able to negotiate with union workers before any action was taken, so strikes, historically, have been preventable. But, in many cases, the UC system hasn’t met union demands in time.
The strikes that result from the UC’s inaction also affect students and professors. Classes and discussion sections are canceled and some assignments are not posted or graded. This is a massive disruption to our education, not to mention that tuition is expensive and we pay per unit for each of our classes.
The strike has also disrupted transportation services on campus. Unitrans has delayed its operations and shut down some lines, which means students have had to find alternative routes to get to their classes. Further, some roads have been closed, resulting in unnecessary traffic for those who drive to campus.
Undergraduates, academic workers and professors shouldn’t have to bear the consequences that result from unfair labor practices and the UC’s inadequate response to union demands. The UC can and should prevent strikes from occurring. Put simply, student workers are essential for our campus to operate smoothly, and they deserve to earn a living wage and have their core demands met.
Written by: The Editorial Board