Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Grad Student Strike at Santa Cruz - Part 13 (now spreading)

An update to our previous post on the Santa Cruz grad student/TA strike noted that it appeared that the strike had spread to Santa Barbara. It now appears to be spreading to Davis. From the Sacramento Bee:

Graduate students at the University of California, Davis will join Santa Cruz university students Thursday on a wildcat strike demanding higher wages as rent continues to rise in Davis. Participating graduate students plan to withhold students’ grades for winter quarter until the university increases its housing supplement for graduate students who work as teaching assistants. The wildcat strike, which means the student union did not endorse the strike, is intended to “disrupt the everyday functioning of the university,” read a statement from the grassroots student-run movement, UCD4COLA. The UC system has a current labor contract with UAW that covers all campuses...

Full story at

Meanwhile, it appears UC has filed unfair labor practice charges against the union on grounds that while it didn't officially endorse the strike, it hasn't taken measures to stop it. From the BruinThe University of California filed unfair labor practice charges against a student worker union Tuesday in response to strikes at UC Santa Cruz. The UC claims that United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents UC student workers, failed to take steps required by its collective bargaining agreement to stop wildcat strikes, or strikes that are not authorized by the union, said UC spokesperson Andrew Gordon in an emailed statement. UCSC graduate students first went on the wildcat strike in December in an attempt to gain cost-of-living adjustments, refusing to hand in fall grades. As part of a second strike starting Feb. 10, UCSC graduate students have refused to teach, grade or hold office hours. Police arrested at least 17 protesters by the third day of the strike, and UC President Janet Napolitano previously threatened to fire any teaching assistants continuing to strike...

Comment: It is not clear what UC will gain, even if it gets a decision from PERB ordering the union to take steps to stop the strike. The union could simply issue a news release telling everyone to go back to work. Whether that would in fact end the strike is questionable. Moreover, as noted in earlier posts, UC - by unilaterally offering a benefit enhancement without bargaining with the union - could find itself the subject of an unfair labor practice charge. In neither case would there likely be decisions that would, on a timely basis, bring this conflict to a conclusion.

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