Amidst the backdrop of California’s housing crisis, the cost of living for Academic Student Employees (ASEs) is rapidly increasing. With an average salary of $21,000 a year, ASEs at every UC campus are considered rent-burdened, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criteria. Decisions made by UC administrators are exacerbating the issue—against the advice and will of students and ASEs, the University’s housing administration has consistently increased rents on campus and has failed to create sufficient affordable housing for students and ASEs. The economic and social uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic will only magnify this crisis.
ASEs and the broader campus community are demanding UC provide a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to lift all its employees, including ASEs, out of rent burden. ASEs have ratified a bargaining framework for a COLA, and have asked UC to come to the bargaining table to make progress on these issues that have left so many student-workers economically insecure. UC has refused these demands, and in response to actions taken by ASEs at Santa Cruz and across the state, has committed egregious Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs), including unjustly firing striking workers without the due process entitled to them under our contract, and attempting to bargain with organizations (such as student government) not empowered to negotiate student-worker compensation. In response, we have filed several Unfair Labor Practice charges against UC, and our union’s bargaining team has called for a ULP strike vote in early April. Members are now signing the ULP Strike Pledge to show UC we are serious about using our collective power to defend our contractually guaranteed rights.
We are continuing to hold UC accountable for their egregious actions, and negotiate a solution to the rent burden that is endemic among ASEs. We have held actions at nearly every campus across the state, and are meeting with elected officials, community leaders and other allies to press our case. We will keep organizing, and keep agitating, until we secure economic justice for student-workers.
What Can I Do?
First thing: sign the strike pledge if you haven’t yet! Encourage others in your lab/department/group to sign it as well! You can also sign the petition calling on UC to bargain with us about a COLA. If you want to get involved with organizing around a COLA or any other workplace issues, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- December 9, 2019: Wildcat grading strike begins at UC Santa Cruz.
- January 15, 2020: UAW 2865 Demands to Bargain. Management denies our demand to bargain, agreeing to a “meet and discuss” meeting.
- January-February 2020: Campuses elect representatives to cost of living committee, who unanimously adopt COLA framework.
- February 4th: Joint labor-management meeting around cost of living.
- February 10th: Wildcat strikers at Santa Cruz go on full teaching strike.
- February 12th: UCPD at Santa Cruz violently arrest 16 wildcat strikers, for which UC spent $300,000 per day.
- February 21st: Janet Napolitano issues statement circumventing our union’s right to bargain over worker compensation by offering to meet with UC Graduate and Professional Council (UCGPC).
- February 22: Renewed demand to bargain sent to UC in response to President Napolitano’s union-busting statement. UCGPC releases statement supporting our union’s right to bargain.
- February 24th: Union members begin ratifying the cost of living framework initially adopted by the cost of living committee.
- February 25: UC files ULP charge against our union for not condemning wildcat strikes.
- February 27: Our union files ULP charge against UC for moving to bargain with unauthorized parties, followed by a second set of ULP charges on March 2. Meanwhile, wildcat strikes begin at Santa Barbara and Davis.
- February 28: 82 graduate students at Santa Cruz are unilaterally terminated or denied spring quarter positions without due process, in violation of our contract. Union files grievances on behalf of these workers.
- March 1: Joint Council votes to convene bargaining team.
- March 3: Bargaining team calls for ULP strike authorization vote of the membership
- March 5: California state legislators send letter to President Napolitano urging UC to bargain with our union over a COLA.
- March 6: COLA bargaining framework ratified by union membership.
- March 9: Student-workers begin signing the strike pledge, committing to withhold their labor should the membership and the bargaining team call for a strike.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions, reach out to your department union steward, or email email@example.com