UC Academic Workers Protests

While their current salary is about $24,000, researchers and teaching assistants are demanding an increased salary to $54,000. Graduate workers are asking for a baseline salary of 70,000, among other benefits such as extended childcare and longer appointments. 

The protestors are arguing that their wages are insufficient to support themselves living on some of the most expensive real estates in the state of California such as Los Angeles, Irvine, and La Jolla, and the cost of housing in these areas is only rising.

As a result of the protests, classes have been canceled by professors due to a lack of teaching assistants. However, some professors have canceled classes to stand in solidarity with the protestors. These strikes come during a critical time of the year as finals are quickly approaching. In addition, the research of many of these postgraduate students at the University of California contributes information to the issues of climate change and industries such as engineering and medicine. 

The action of the strikes escalated in the fourth week, with a planned sit-in at the UC Office of the President in Sacramento which led to 17 arrests for trespassing for the protestors. 

Negotiations have started for post-doctorates and researchers for the UCs consisting of five-year contracts with slight wage increases including additional childcare benefits that the workers have been fighting for. However, these negotiations have excluded a large majority of strikers, around 12,000 people, consisting of teaching aids that are being paid the least of all the academic workers.  In addition, many postdoctorate students receive funding from the federal government for their work in research, 

The UCs hire some of the largest amounts of people in all of the state, making many complain further about why they cannot adequately pay their workers. First-year public policy graduate student at UCLA Sebastian Cazares stated “It’s just empowering to be out here with students that are showing solidarity for the plight of graduate students and all.”

Furthermore, current UC Riverside senior Michael Abad, a former student at ANHS, sides with the protests saying “they are justified” in what they are doing. 

Furthermore, another former ANHS student, Jessie Blattner, now a freshman at UCLA explains “I think the TAs and graduate researchers are really what makes UCLA and the UC system as a whole so great.”

However, because of their lack of presence Blattner feels that it has made her first quarter very difficult as they are the ones who give the most instruction. 

While none of her lectures have been canceled, she explained that her labs and discussions were. 

The protestors do not seem to be backing down from their strike until the universities begin negotiating on their terms. As many students are missing their instructional time, they hope that the strikers can reach agreements soon.