UC campuses brace for massive strike by student workers

DAVIS – A potentially massive strike looms over the University of California campus.

Thousands of student workers say they will picket if negotiations between the UC system and UAW 2865 fail.

Student workers and union members spent their Sunday creating signs while ironing out details about the potential strike from Monday morning.

“Labs will be empty, classes will be empty,” said Ximena Anleu Gil, a teacher’s assistant and graduate student researcher.

UC is in discussions with four negotiating entities: postdoctoral researchers, academic researchers, academic student staff and graduate students.

Some demands include fair pay, a respectful work environment, housing, and international tuition fees.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Office of the President of the University of California said:

“The primary goal of these negotiations is multi-year agreements that recognize the important and valued contributions of these staff to the university’s teaching and research mission with fair pay, quality health and family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment.”

According to Anleu Gil, about 6,000 UC Davis student workers will picket for the elimination of international tuition, transportation subsidies, job accessibility and living expenses.

From teaching assistants to graduate students, UAW 2865 expects nearly 48,000 workers to go on strike.

“It sucks that we don’t get our things graded on time, but at the end of the day I fully support the strike. I understand why they’re doing this,” said Ben Snow, a college student.

Bailey Sokol, also a student, agrees.

“I feel like if they’re grading everything and having these labs and these discussions, they deserve more,” she said.

UC said negotiations are progressing and many preliminary agreements have been reached on key issues such as a respectful work environment and health and safety issues.

Still, pay and housing issues are critical for student workers like Anleu Gil.

She claims that 90 percent of graduate students spend more than 30 percent of their income just on rent.

Amid worries about rent charges, the cost of living and inflation, can union members afford to go on strike?

“It’s a sacrifice that many of us make,” said Anleu Gil.

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