University of California workers begin largest academic labor strike in US history

Oakland, California - Around 48,000 academic workers across 10 campuses in the University of California system have launched a historic strike for better wages and working conditions.

University of California employees and allies picket on the first day of their historic strike for better wages and working conditions.
University of California employees and allies picket on the first day of their historic strike for better wages and working conditions.  © Screenshot/Twitter/UAW5810

University of California employees, represented by several units of the United Auto Workers union, have begun the US' largest-ever academic strike after around 96% of participants voted to authorize the walkout in early November.

Workers are tired of the universities profiting off their labor while barely paying them enough to get by. With costs of living skyrocketing in California, the situation is growing more dire for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, teaching assistants, and other employees.

Now, workers have joined forces to demand higher wages and greater support in child care, transit, health care, and disability justice so that all UC employees – not just top administrators – are able to survive and thrive.

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Currently, graduate teaching assistants and tutors make around $24,000 per year, and they are seeking a base salary of $54,000 annually. The university system responded by offering wage increases of 7% in the first year and 3% in following years – much less than workers had demanded and not nearly enough to meet the rising costs of housing.

The unions also accused UC of engaging in unfair labor practices by changing working conditions for some employees without going through the collective bargaining process. As of Monday, workers are on the picket lines to send a message that enough is enough.

UC has said classes will continue despite the strike, though it's unclear how they will keep up daily operations with so much of their vital workforce missing from classrooms and research facilities.

As the university system continues to deny many of its employees living wages, UC workers from San Diego to Berkeley are rising up to demand their due!

Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/UAW5810

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