California strike: Academic workers in state universities protest low

California strike: Academic workers in state universities protest low pay

Tens of thousands of academic workers in California state universities have gone on strike, demanding better working conditions and higher wages to keep up with soaring inflation.

California strike: Academic workers in state universities protest low pay – Some 48,000 researchers, postdoctoral scholars, teaching assistants and other employees launched the biggest academic worker strike in US history, seeking a minimum annual salary of $54,000, increased child-care benefits, and greater accessibility for workers with disabilities.

Classes were canceled, researches were stopped, and office hours were cancelled as thousands of employees headed to the picket line at universities across the state from San Diego to Berkeley.

The University of California system with nearly 300-thousand students enrolled and consisting of more than 10 public universities, insisted it would stay open.

Rafael Jaime, president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) 2865 and a doctoral candidate at the University of California Los Angeles, said, “We’re the ones who perform the majority of the teaching, and we’re the ones who perform the majority of the research,  I have a hard time seeing how operations are going to be maintained with us on the picket line.”

“We’re the backbone of the university,” he added.

In a statement, the University of California system denied it engaged in unfair labor practices and claimed to have been “generous and responsive to union priorities.”

Last November, the university system dodged a planned strike after negotiations reached a last minute agreement with university lecturers that improved their job security and included raises.

Among the workers’ core demands are salaries of at least $54,000 a year for graduate-student workers and annual cost-of-living increases. The union is also calling for increased job security, greater accessibility for workers with disabilities and additional assistance for students with children.

The UAW is calling for more than double in salary increase, annual cost of living increase as well as calling for increased job security.

Janna Haider, recording secretary for the Santa Barbara branch of the UAW 2865, said,” We make about $23,000 a year, and that’s unlivable in many parts of California. When I get paid, half of my paycheque immediately goes to my landlord.”

A report issued by the University of California student group United for a Fair Workplace 40 percent of graduate student workers said housing consumed more than half of their income.

Many universities across the state are located in areas with high costs of living and tight housing markets such as Los Angeles and San Diego, where students are sometimes pushed into homelessness due to high housing rents.


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