Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Teaching Assistants Strike This Week

Teaching Assistants across the UC system will stage a strike on April 2nd and 3rd.  According to e-mails from union activists and UAW local 2865 the strike is over unfair labor practices on the part of the university, and a failure of the university to bargain seriously over key issues.

The TAs say that university negotiators have refused to bargain, or not bargained seriously, over class size, childcare subsidies, and other issues.  They also claim administrators have threatened retaliation against some TAs for participating in strikes and other protected activities.  We can't know exactly what is going on in the negotiating room, and charges of illegal intimidation eventually will be reviewed by the state labor board.

But some things are clear right now.  Teaching Assistants are essential to the educational mission of the university. They do real work that is not easily replaceable. Also clear is Teaching Assistants' choice to bargain collectively through a union.  State law, and professional ethics, require the university to bargain fairly with employees' representatives.  State law also protects the rights of employees to engage in actions together (like strikes and protests).

This strike is going to disrupt undergraduate education, no doubt about it.  But apparently, the university has gotten to the point that it requires a strike (or threatened strike) to bargain seriously with employees.  That seems to be the lesson of recent service workers contract negotiations. It is time for the university to settle this contract fairly with our graduate student employees.

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