Grad. employee protests spreading across UC (updated 2/21/20)

Facing rising rents that are outstripping their pay, a group of Teaching Assistants at UC Santa Cruz launched a grade strike and are demanding a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Predictably, UCOP has been unsympathetic, and disciplinary actions may come soon. An array of UCSC departments, student organizations, and community groups have penned statements of support for the UCSC activists.

After long and contentious bargaining, the UAW and UCOP agreed to a contract with fairly limited pay increases for graduate student employees. The grade strike at UCSC was organized outside of the union, but after the strike began the union asked UCOP to reopen negotiations or begin discussion on how to deal with the cost of living crisis. On February 14, UC President Janet Napolitano delivered a firm “no” to that option, saying to do so “would undercut the very foundation of an agreement negotiated in good faith by the UAW and ratified by thousands of members across the system.” Along with that stick, Napolitano offered some carrots: a needs-based housing fellowship and improved graduate funding.

Given the high cost of living in Los Angeles, it is not surprising that graduate students at UCLA talking about joining these actions. With this in mind, UCLA faculty are circulating a statement of non-retaliation, which more than 80 faculty have signed as of February 17. Please read the statement and sign on if you agree.

UCLA students are circulating a flyer explaining their issues, and communicating via social media via @ucla4cola.

Update: UCLA students have called for series of actions this week (Feb 18-21). Information here.

Update (2/18/20): Council of UC Faculty Associations urges resolution to “cost of living crisis.”

Update (2/19/20): UC-AFT Condemns President Napolitano’s Threat to Fire Striking Academic Student Employees.

Update (2/21/20): UC Academic Senate (tenure system faculty) Statements on Graduate Student Employee Strike and Police Presence at UCSC