In a move that may result in a backlash for the faculty from UCSB, the UCSB Faculty Association organized a rally on Thursday in solidarity with academic workers on the fourth day of the statewide UC Academic Worker strike.
Supporters gathered outside the Social Science and Media Studies building and marched to the arbor in front of the university’s library, where they heard speeches from professors, lecturers and academic workers.
“What leadership means is you got to take the lead, you don’t have to toe the line of what the University Office of the President tells you, and how to negotiate,” Harold Marcuse, a history professor at UCSB, said at the rally. “You have to stand in solidarity with your people. And that is us.”
“I want to say the demands and visions, like the demand for a humane wage, help all of us see the ways that we’ve acquiesced to what’s untenable, we’ve accepted what’s unacceptable, right?” said Chase Hobbs-Morgan, visiting assistant political science professor. “So, the demand for $54,000 a year, which might cover basic necessities, forces all of us to see that we’ve been asking the academic workers who earn the least, to keep living poorly in order to make up for the failures of reluctant taxpayers and legislators, and yes, regents who earn the most, right?”
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at UCSB, emceed the rally.
He said the UC system has become more privatized during the past 30 years, meaning that less funding comes from the taxpayer and more funding comes from private, sometimes corporate sources.
“There’s been a general anti-labor, anti-union thrust in the United States for at least 30 or 40 years,” Armbruster-Sandoval said.
Workers within every sector of the UC systems, such as custodians, lecturers and clerical workers, have tried negotiating contracts, Armbruster-Sandoval said.
Some professors have canceled their lectures until the strike is over in support of the strikers and potentially could face backlash from UCSB for doing so.
“The higher campus officials have stated that if we support the strike by canceling classes and doing other things like maybe not grading grading assignments and things like that, then we could be subject to punishment under what’s called a [UC] Faculty Code of Conduct,” Armbruster-Sandoval said. “A little bit unclear what kind of punishment that could lead to.”
However, according to Armbruster-Sandoval, some of the faculty members said they are protected under the Higher Education Employee Relations Act, which gives faculty the legal ability to strike, and that it supersedes the Code of Conduct.
According to Armbruster-Sandoval, the UC system has told faculty that they need to work, and if they stop working, their pay can be docked.
Armbruster-Sandoval said that if the strike continues and professors continue to not hold lectures for the remainder of the quarter, students may receive an “incomplete” or “blank” grade. A blank grade would mean that the student would make up the work in the following quarter.
“But you know, I mean, the strike could be settled tomorrow, too,” Armbruster-Sandoval said. “There could be some short-term impact, but hopefully for the long term, consequences would be positive and productive for all students across the board as well as university. So, there’s calculated risks here at play.”