Wednesday, February 26, 2020
The Grad Student Strike at Santa Cruz - Part 12
Editorial comment from yours truly: It would have been better to meet; the worst that could happen is nothing. The article suggests that the current legal situation - the union can't officially step in directly because it would then be violating its fixed-duration contract with UC - has led to a leaderless situation with ad hoc decision making and extraneous issues being thrown in that will make a resolution difficult.*
Two undergrads did meet with the regental representatives:
...Ben Claire, a fourth-year environmental science and management major, and Marlen Garcia, a first-year political science and community & regional development double major, accepted the Regents’ offer (to meet). At the meeting were Regents William Um** and Debby Stegura,*** who said they were visiting different campuses to educate themselves about what was going on. UC Davis Chief of Staff Karl Engelbach was also present. Claire and Garcia, with consent, recorded the entire conversation. One talking point during the conversation was housing. Claire and Garcia both discussed their struggles finding housing as undergraduates.
Engelbach said that UC Davis was planning to add 5,000 new beds available at 20% below Davis housing market rate. When asked what they made per month and if they would support a raise for the grad students who made around $2,000 a month, the Regents and Engelbach laughed. Engelbach makes over $300,000 a year, including benefits.
“Both parties [UAW and the UC] would have to agree to re-opening the contract,” Engelbach said with regard to negotiating higher wages. Um and Stegura gave Garcia and Claire information about the public comment section at the UC regents meetings and invited them to contact the Basic Needs Subcommittee.
“Thank you for your advocacy,” Um said. “That’s how we […] learn from the students.”
Stegura, when asked if she supported cost of living adjustments, said she supported people being able to live. “Just because we can’t say we can open up a contract tomorrow doesn’t mean that we don’t get it,” she said. “I don’t know what the resources are, but it’s a problem everywhere, it’s not just a problem with the UC.”
Garcia said she was thankful that the regents were thankful, but that wasn’t enough. To her, she said, it felt like the regents sounded like they had heard about the problem before. “It wasn’t that they were uninterested, but they already knew it was a problem,” Garcia said. “If it was something they were interested in doing, they would have done something long ago,”
At the conversation’s end, Stegura told Claire to “burn that video” and asked, “Am I on your good side?” When Claire responded no, Stegura told him, “I don’t have a good side.”
Full story at https://theaggie.org/2020/02/25/two-weeks-of-action-for-uc-davis-cola-organizers-culminate-in-pledged-strike/
*From the article above: "The demands reflected a statement sent out by UC Davis COLA organizers before the march, describing the COLA movement as first addressing only the housing crisis, then expanding to 'become a nucleation point to articulate criticisms of the University’s role in upholding structural inequities, systemic racism, colonialism, state violence, policing and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), poverty, imperialism, and militarism.'"
**Um is the alumni regent: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/about/members-and-advisors/bios/william-um.html
***Stegora is the alumni regent designate: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/about/members-and-advisors/bios/debby-stegura.html
UPDATE: The student newspaper at UC-Santa Barbara indicates that a grad student/TA strike is starting there: