University of California Workers Announce Strike

Almost 50,000 academic workers announced they would strike Nov. 14 and reiterated allegations that the UC system is using unlawful bargaining practices.
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  • Academic workers across the University of California's 10-campus system held a strike authorization vote from Oct. 26-Nov. 2.
  • The vote passed with nearly 98% approval.
  • Unionized workers announced Friday – two days after the vote – that they will go on strike Nov. 14 unless their demands are met.
  • A strike would effectively shut down most UC undergraduate classes and laboratory research.

Two days after University of California (UC) academic workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, their union announced they will go on strike starting Nov. 14.

The academic workers include some 48,000 researchers, postdocs, and teaching assistants (TAs) across the UC system's 10 campuses. They are represented by the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).

About 76% of the members (36,558) voted on the strike authorization, which passed by a nearly 98% margin, according to UAW.

In an email press release sent Friday, UAW officials said that a strike will be called Nov. 14 "unless the university stops its unlawful conduct so that meaningful progress can be made at the bargaining table.”

The unionized UC workers are represented by four different bargaining groups, each with a different union contract. According to UAW, all four of those bargaining groups decided Thursday night to move forward with a strike.

Compensation is a major issue for UC's unionized academic workers. Other demands include access to sustainable transportation, more childcare assistance, increased job security, increased aid for international students, disability accommodations, and protections against abusive conduct in the workplace.

A strike would effectively shut down most UC undergraduate classes and laboratory research. No healthcare workers are represented by UAW, and UC medical centers would remain open during a strike.

Although a strike date is set, there is still a possibility that an agreement will be reached, UAW officials said.

“Our hope is that the University remedies its unfair labor practices so that we can reach fair agreements before November 14,” Ahmed Akhtar, a UAW bargaining team member, said in the press release.

“We will do everything in our power to make that happen. But there are over 35,000 workers who voted in favor of strike authorization and are prepared to strike if necessary in order to hold UC accountable, and ultimately move us forward as a stronger institution,” Akhtar said.

UC officials have previously told BestColleges that the allegations of unfair bargaining are "not true,” and that all UC campuses will be prepared to “ensure continuity of instruction and research in the event of a UAW strike.”

"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," Ryan King, associate director of media relations for the UC Office of the President, said in an email. "Despite these unfounded claims, UC remains committed to continuing its good-faith efforts to reach agreements with UAW as quickly as possible."