By Daniel Gutiérrez
Graduate students affiliated with United Auto Workers Local 2865 at UC San Diego have announced a two-day strike for Wednesday, April 2, and Thursday, April 3. The dates selected for the strike fall on the first week of the school’s Spring Quarter.
The UAW Local 2865, which represents over 12,000 graduate student workers across the campuses of the University of California, voted and passed the strike. UAW Local 2865 has been in contract negotiations with the University of California for nearly a year. Union representatives have been meeting with labor-relations delegates for months trying to secure better wages for graduate student workers and improve work-place conditions.
The University has been hostile towards any advancement in workers’ rights, despite ever-growing expenditures on management. Despite the fact that many of the school’s graduate student-workers receive poverty wages, the UC administration continues to treat its own like royalty.
At UCLA alone, two million dollars have been spent by 18 deans for travel and entertainment in just four years.
Meanwhile, Janet Napolitano, the president of the UC, receives $9,950 dollars a month just for her housing needs. This is aside from the fact that she receives an annual salary of $570,000. What’s more, Napolitano received $142,500 just to move to California upon her hire.
With so much spending at the administrative level,its no wonder that in 2008, 2009, and 2012, the university lost money. Public education in California is starting to sound as lucrative as Wall Street.
Graduate students are going on strike for a wide assortment of reasons. The student-workers’ union went on strike on November 20th of last year alongside the UC’s service and patient-care workers represented by AFSME Local 3299. During this strike, a number of Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) were filed against the university. At UC Santa Cruz, employees were filmed by campus police officers which resulted in worker intimidation, as argued by the UAW. The Public Employee Relations Board ruled in favor of the UAW and announced an Unfair Labor Practice against the University of California.
Currently on the table of the Public Employee Relations Board is another set of Unfair Labor Practicess. The UAW alleges that the University of California attempted to intimidate student workers across campuses, including UCSD. These acts of intimidation by staff and administration include telling workers the strike was unlawful and that student workers had to adhere to their “responsibilities.”
The most outrageous acts of intimidation occurred at UCLA, where administrators specifically targeted international students, warning them that any activity in the strike would result in the loss of their work visas.