University of California Student-Workers Strike, Reject Neoliberal Violence
April 16, 2014
By James Anderson
Members of the United Auto Workers local 2865 – the union representing teaching assistants, associate instructors and undergraduate tutors across the University of California system – went on strike for two days last week over working conditions and intimidation.
The first day, April 2, saw actions by a select few campuses – namely Berkeley, Santa Cruz and San Diego – as most mobilized to strike. The next day, nine UC teaching campuses participated.
UAW local 2865, the UC Student-Workers Union, which represents some 12,000 academic employees – the teaching student workers – hit the picket lines not in relation to ongoing contract negotiations but rather in response to unrelenting repression and the university’s refusal to negotiate key working conditions.
Caroline McKusick, 24, a doctoral student in anthropology at UC Davis and the press contact for the union, said the “strike was related to a pattern of intimidation that’s gone on throughout our bargaining process,” epitomized by the forceful arrest of union organizer Josh Brahinsky at UC Santa Cruz. Workers at UCSC almost went on strike prior to the two-day system-wide affair when the campus continued employing tutors without including them in collective bargaining, thereby withholding benefits that other academic workers at the university receive.
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