The United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 announced plans for another strike — proposed to begin the Saturday before finals week and continue until the end of the quarter.
While the focus of the strike in April was to gain recognition and mass participation from students and faculty, UAW member and literature teaching assistant (TA) Jeb Purucker said this strike would emphasize the withholding of TA labor from UC Santa Cruz. The UAW expects broad support from faculty and students, and plans on picketing everyday beginning June 7, although specific details about the strike have not been decided yet.
“The impact of this is not directed at our students. That’s definitely not our goal,” Purucker said. “But the university created this climate where our options are limited, and we can’t not respond to the university’s behavior toward labor force.”
Purucker said this strike is partially in response to executive vice chancellor (EVC) Allison Galloway’s refusal to drop the judicial and university charges raised against the individuals arrested during the April 2-3 strike.
“This is of concern because if we’re eventually going to get back on contract, maybe the university should make a serious commitment to labor peace and negotiate with us and not intimidate us,” Purucker said.
An email was sent Tuesday from EVC Galloway’s office regarding two new initiatives beginning in the fall. One will fund the addition of 100 new TAs, and the other will start the Chancellor’s Graduate Teaching Fellows program, allowing 12-15 graduate students across campus to design and offer their own undergraduate course or undergraduate research mentorship.
“Obviously we’re all for the university hiring more teaching assistants,” Purucker said. “This, along with the teaching fellowships, is a good step. That being said, hopefully these new teaching assistants will be covered under a better contract than the one we have right now.”
While negotiations for a fair contract have been happening for almost a year, Purucker said very little progress has been made. Media specialist at the University of California’s Office of the President Shelly Meron disagrees, stating that the UC made progress with issues such as child care subsidies, family leave and healthcare benefits and has also made proposals for wages.
“We’re really disappointed they called a strike for finals week, especially considering we are continuing to make progress at the bargaining table,” Meron said. “We think it’s unfortunate they are threatening to disrupt students’ education at such a critical time. Our students and our faculty want to close the school year on the best possible note, and they don’t deserve to be caught up in an unnecessary labor dispute.”
Meron said these unfair labor practice charges filed by UAW are a “negotiation tactic in an attempt to distract from the real issues,” and the UC is committed to working with the union to reach an agreement as soon as possible. She said these issues should be resolved at the bargaining table, not with a strike threatening students’ education.
Purucker said the UAW wants to avoid the strike, but to do so the university must become more serious about the contract negotiations and drop threats issued against the students. Purucker views this strike as a message to the university, and feels confident the UC will hear the message and come forward to work more seriously with the UAW.
“While there is still ample time to figure this out and resolve this before the strike,” Purucker said, “warning shots have been fired and it’s up to them to decide what to do with this now.”