Monday, March 30, 2020

The ongoing grad student/TA strike

From the Bruin: UCLA graduate students are considering going on strike over what they see as unfair working conditions and inadequate compensation from the university.

Academic student employees, or ASEs, who are part of the United Auto Workers Local 2865 union said they are going to vote in early April on whether to hold an unfair labor practice strike that would be backed by the union. Strike organizers said they have gathered approximately 3,000 signatures from graduate students throughout the UC system pledging to participate in a ULP strike.

Such a strike would aim to pressure the University of California into reinstating dozens of graduate students who were fired for striking at UC Santa Cruz in early March. It would also push the UC to negotiate directly with the union over cost-of-living issues.

However, hundreds of graduate students have said they intend to strike regardless of whether they are backed by the union. Many of these students are part of an organization called Ucla4Cola, which has previously protested the firing of UCSC student workers and what they perceive as unfair working conditions for ASEs in the UC system.

Ucla4Cola students voted to go on a strike not backed by UAW 2865 in early March pending the approval of 10 academic departments. However, student organizers ultimately decided to delay the demonstrations after UCLA closed due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, said UCLA graduate student and protest organizer Sucharita Kanjilal in an emailed statement.

Chief among the demands of Ucla4Cola is that UCLA implement a cost-of-living-adjustment, also known as COLA for ASEs so that graduate students can afford to live locally. Los Angeles is one of the U.S.’s most expensive cities, and Westwood specifically was recently ranked as being in the fourth-most pricey zip code for renters in the country.

Labor activism planned by both the COLA activists and the union leadership has been largely overshadowed recently by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. As a result of the pandemic, UCLA’s administration announced earlier this month that classes during the spring quarter would be taught remotely.

Michael Dean, a UCLA representative of UAW 2865, said despite the events surrounding the outbreak, union leadership is still planning on voting in the first week of April on whether to conduct a strike across UC campuses...

Full story at

Two points on the above article:

1) The legal status of a strike - whether it is an economic strike or an unfair labor practice strike - depends not on what strikers call it but what the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) rules it is. Similarly, whether the union is truly independent of the current strike is also ultimately a matter of PERB's decision and not just what someone says. In short, there is a lot of uncertainty about the status of the strike and the strikers.

2) We have previously proposed a resolution:

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