Three unions organized under the United Auto Workers across the University of California are preparing for the largest strike in the history of higher education in the United States, citing a need for higher salaries to compensate for the high cost of living in California.
The strike is expected to begin Monday morning.
In their negotiations with the UC, the unions have alleged unfair labor practices, which are the underlying basis of the upcoming strike.
“We strongly disagree with the UAW allegations that UC has engaged in unlawful behavior,” the UC Office of the President said in a statement. “Throughout the negotiations, UC has listened carefully to the union’s concerns and bargained in good faith, as illustrated by the many tentative agreements reached thus far, including on topics underlying the UAW’s allegations.
“Despite these claims, UC remains committed to continuing its good faith efforts to reach agreements with UAW as quickly as possible.”
The unions asked for a minimum salary of $54,000 for graduate students and $70,000 for postdoctoral students in the UC System. The UC offered a slight pay raise that the unions deemed insufficient.
The unions are also requesting “14% salary increase for academic researchers and annual cost of living adjustments and experience-based increases.”
The talks affect 48,000 workers, including 17,000 student researchers. The unions voted to authorize a strike in October.
The unions are encouraging people to not cross the picket line in solidarity with their efforts.
Several academic departments at UC Santa Barbara, including the Chicana and Chicano Studies, Feminist Studies, Global Studies and Political Science departments, have expressed their support for the unions’ efforts to procure higher pay — among other requests.
“The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies stands in solidarity with UAW 2865 … UAW 5810 … and SRU-UAW,” a statement from the department read. “In the spirit of our department’s activist ethos, we will cancel sections and alter or revise graded assignments in solidarity with striking teaching assistants for the duration of the strike.
“And, we will educate our undergraduate students about the strike and what ASEs are demanding.”
Both the unions and the UC have published FAQs regarding the impacts of a strike — with the university asserging that strikes hurt students and their education and the unions countering that better pay would help their members to do their jobs better without the added stress of financial insecurity.
UCSB officials were not immediately available for comment.