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UAW workers go on strike at University of California

After months of public posturing, unionized University of California researchers, teaching assistants, and postdoctoral students officially went on strike this week to protest their current wages and compensation.

Union leaders blamed university administrators for the failed negotiations. Rafael Jaime, the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) 2865 chapter president, said, “Extremely low compensation – many workers make less than $24,000 a year – is leaving workers severely rent-burdened and struggling to remain in academia.”

Jaime added, “UC’s failure to support a diverse workforce undermines the quality of research and education across the system.”

Of the 48,000 workers UAW represents across the University of California’s 10 campuses, 19,000 are student workers.

The University of California administration disagreed with UAW’s claims and said, “UC continues to negotiate with the union and is committed to working collaboratively with the UAW to find solutions to outstanding issues.”

Despite an offer to increase salaries by 7% in the first year and 3% in subsequent years, workers did not budge. Instead, workers stood firm and demanded a base salary that more than doubles their current salary.

The strike will slow down the University’s operations across all ten campuses. Without researchers, teaching assistants, and other striking workers, the university administration anticipates that there would be a stoppage of research activities, classroom instruction, and grading.

Based on the university system’s academic calendar, their semester ends in mid-December. If this week’s strike drags on for a significant length of time, it could possibly delay the recording of grades ahead of final exams and the end of the semester.

There is no timeline for the UAW strike, but the pressure is on for both parties to reach an agreement to avoid delays affecting students and faculty alike.

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.

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