By Colleen Flaherty, March 17, 2020,
Inside Higher Ed
Graduate students at two more University of California campuses joined the ongoing strike for a cost of living adjustment, bringing the number of campuses involved to five, out of 10 total systemwide. Graduate assistants at the Berkeley campus declared a full teaching strike starting this week, following their peers at Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. Graduate assistants at San Diego also declared a grading strike, following a similar move at Davis.
Berkeley graduate workers said in a statement that "management has, in the middle of a public health crisis, demanded extra work from their [graduate student instructors] as they transition to online-only classes." Today, "more than ever," they said, "a COLA increase is necessary for all grads, so we can afford proper food, housing and medicine." The graduate assistants’ union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, also asked the university this week whether it really planned to fire some 82 Santa Cruz assistants previously sanctioned for their involvement in the strike. The strike began at Santa Cruz in December, with many students withholding undergraduates' fall term grades. Winter grades are at stake now.
The university system said in a statement that it values "all our graduate students, including academic student employees (ASEs) who are essential to UC’s teaching mission, supporting the university as teaching assistants, readers and tutors." But that mission "is in jeopardy when ASEs refuse to fulfill their teaching obligations." Striking assistants also are in violation of the university’s no-strike contract with the statewide graduate student union, it also said, listing benefits and assistance previously offered to students.
We'd like to remind the parties to this dispute that there is a way out: