The largest higher education workers labor strike enters a third week and inches toward final exams. CFA member leaders have joined to support University of California workers.
Nearly 48,000 UC academic workers are on an Unfair Labor Practices strike. Most of CFA’s 23 chapters have written statements of solidarity, attended picket lines, and donated upwards of $20,000 toward meals for the strikers and their hardship fund.
CFA Long Beach member Ben Huff helped draft the chapter’s solidarity resolution.
“It is vitally important that anyone working in higher education support this historic strike. Education has seen countless attacks and struggles in recent years and as members of the California Faculty Association, it is our duty to stand side-by-side with the members of UAW and say enough is enough! We all deserve to have our work in academia treated with respect and dignity. Unity and support will always lead us down the road to victory,” said Huff, assistant professor of CSU Long Beach.
The workers – academic student employees, academic researchers, postdoctoral scholars, and student researchers – are negotiating a new contract and are demanding a fairer UC.
“They lead class discussions, lab work in the classroom, grade work, assisting or (co-) leading research projects. Their labor is instrumental in advancement of knowledge and learning, yet it is not value or respected,” said Michelle Ramos Pellicia, CFA San Marcos president, CFA Chicanx/Latinx Caucus co-chair, and professor at CSU San Marcos. “UC workers are important in the work done in the UC. Our support is important. The UC union, UAW Academic Workers, deserve higher salaries. The high cost of living in California makes it impossible to live on the meager income they receive for their important labor. Their demands also include better working conditions, and these are also extremely important as these are also their learning conditions given that many are graduate students or teach undergraduate students.”
In our statewide statement of solidarity, CFA members join those on strike for solutions to unaffordable housing, long and increasingly expensive commutes, and a paucity of support for working parents and international scholars.
“We firmly believe that there is no higher education at the UC without these workers and their compensation and benefits need to reflect that. These budding scholars, scientists, and leaders should not have to struggle in order to meet their basic living expenses,” our statement reads.
Striking workers include members of Student Researchers United, UAW 5810, and UAW 2865. They have garnered statements of support across America. Scores of California state legislators have signed on to a letter urging UC President Drake to meet strikers’ basic needs; California members of Congress also demand an equitable and just conclusion for academic workers.
UAW 5810 reached a tentative agreement with the UC Tuesday, but strikes will continue, and the union said members will continue to strike in solidarity until contracts are ratified.