San Diego – Nearly sixty student workers who peacefully exercised their right to protest last month have received emails from UCSD’s Office of Student Conduct falsely accusing them of physical assault – including dozens who were not present at the protest at all.
A group of academic workers gathered on May 5th at an alumni event at the San Diego Museum of Modern Art – which the university claims cost upwards of $100,000 – to highlight the fact that the university is weeks, and in many cases months behind on paying the wages guaranteed in their legally-binding contracts. Many of the affected workers earn less than $35,000 a year, and even brief disruptions in pay can cause them to miss rent payments, go without food and run up high-interest credit card bills.
The protesters are members of UAW 5810, which represents 12,000 Postdoctoral Scholars and Academic Researchers, and members of UAW 2865, which represents 36,000 Academic Workers across the University of California system.
The event was hosted by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, who recently received a $500,000 raise, bringing his total annual salary to $1.14 million. No violence of any kind was reported by either the police or reporters, both of whom were present at the event.
“The university is attempting to threaten us into silence, into allowing their ongoing wage theft to continue,” said Adam Cooper, who received an email alleging he committed physical assault despite being on campus doing research during the time of the protest. Workers in his department are each owed $4,000 and counting due to arbitrary under-appointments. “We won’t stand for it. We deserve to be paid fairly and on time. Lies like this deserve to be called out.”
In multiple videos of the event, no violence of any kind is shown. The unfounded and false allegations are clearly intended to intimidate, however, as a hold may be placed on their record and impact their ability to graduate.
These fifty-nine charges are on top of eight existing charges against UCSD academic workers for engaging in peaceful protest. Colleagues and community allies across the state have rallied in support of the sixty-seven academic workers charged by the university. A petition calling on university leadership to drop the charges and take immediate action to resolve the ongoing pay issues has gathered over 1,000 signatures.
“We will fight the university until they reverse every single one of these false, baseless and threatening allegations,” said Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 2865. “Administrators should focus their time on paying people fairly instead of wasting taxpayer resources trying to intimidate workers into silence.”