Nearly 48,000 people set to strike across UC system

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Nearly 48,000 University of California workers, including researchers, postdoctoral fellows, teaching assistants and evaluators, said they would strike Monday, a move that could close some classrooms and labs just weeks before the final exams in December.

United Auto Workers union leaders representing workers have informed the UC president’s office of their intention to strike on all 10 UC campuses beginning Monday if they fail to reach an agreement with the university, UC officials said Thursday.

UAW bargaining units are to picket starting at 8 a.m. Monday. Nearly 98% of the 36,558 members voted to approve the strike authorization, according to the union.

Compensation is a key issue in the labor dispute.

“Strictly low compensation—many workers earn less than $24,000 a year—leaves workers heavily burdened with rent and struggling to stay in academia. UC’s inability to support a diverse workforce undermines the quality of research and education throughout the system,” Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 2865, said earlier this month. The union represents over 19,000 teaching assistants, tutors and readers.

Union officials describe the strike as the largest ever by academics in the United States

“UC left us with no choice but to step up our campaigns,” said Neal Sweeney, president of UAW 5810, which represents more than 11,000 postdoctoral fellows and university researchers.

Sweeney said earlier this month that negotiations have dragged on for more than a year.

“But rather than reaching fair deals, the University engaged in a wide variety of illegal tactics,” he said. “UAW locals at UC have been forced to file more than 20 unfair labor practices in response to their refusal to provide the information we need to negotiate unilateral changes to our working conditions and more. .”

Sweeney’s and other unions involved in the action are affiliated with the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

UC Berkeley has set up a strike website with “tips and related FAQs that will be updated periodically,” according to a statement released Thursday by Benjamin E. Hermalin, executive vice chancellor and provost of the UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley, and Eugene Whitlock, Chief People & Culture Officer at UC Berkeley. The site is not accessible to the general public.

“Campus leaders provided guidance to deans, chairs, instructors and researchers to help ensure continuity of teaching and research in the event of a strike,” Hermalin and Whitlock said.

According to UC’s public-facing website, “UC continues to bargain in good faith with the union and is committed to working cooperatively with the UAW to find solutions to outstanding issues.”

Ryan King, spokesman for the president’s office at the University of California, said earlier this month, “Our primary goal in these negotiations is to reach multi-year agreements that recognize the important and highly valued contributions of these employees. to the University’s teaching and research mission with a fair salary, quality and family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment.”

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