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Monday, April 7, 2014

Graduate Students on Strike

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

University of California graduate students explain why they’re striking.

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This week, our union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, has called a system-wide strike in protest of unfair labor practices (ULPs) by the university. Although particular grievances differ from campus to campus, in aggregate, they concern the university’s unwillingness to bargain over key aspects of our employment, including class size and the number of terms (quarters, semesters) students are able to work. Also at issue is the university’s history of illegal intimidation of student workers. For example, this past November, an administrator at UCLA threatened overseas students with the loss of their visas for participating in a sympathy strike — a claim as insulting as it was untrue.

The reasons for striking are serious, but also banal. By any measure, our labor is appallingly undervalued by the managers of the UC, its remuneration calibrated neither to the ballooning costs of living in present-day California nor to the wages of our peers at equivalent out-of-state universities. Nonetheless, many of us persist in believing that, no matter how untenable or degrading, our working conditions can always be tolerated, since they are only temporary, lasting no longer than our apprenticeships.

The ideology of grad school rationalizes this deficit as the price of shelter from the “working world,” of which the academy is surely the opposite. Those who do not support the strike...

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