While megabucks are going to new buildings, the Postgraduates and doctoral students are living in their cars. Our homelessness population is composed of intelligent people, making less then $28,000 a year, doing research in prestigious schools? That’s not acceptable.
Add their strike to the 1000’s at Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joe’s and potentially the RailRoads. How many American workers are happy? How many unable to afford basic necessities?
What’s the real unemployment #’s ? Too many industries are understaffed!
Three weeks of strikes by university academics has brought campuses across California to standstill. Labs are closed, assignments go ungraded. Graduate students have walked off the job, professors have cancelled class, and even construction staff have put down their tools in solidarity.
The strike is groundbreaking – the largest in the history of US higher education and part of a wave of organizing at college campuses across the country. It has brought together 48,000 graduate workers, academic researchers and postdoctoral scholars within the nine-campus University of California system who say the low wages they are paid make it impossible to live in the cities where they work. The most common salary for graduate workers is $23,247, according to the academic workers unions.
Even in a year of high profile labor organizing from Starbucks to Amazon, the moment is being hailed as a milestone. It’s already scored a victory – a tentative agreement reached with some workers will bring significant wage increases – and could go on for weeks longer.
“There’s a lot of new organizing in higher education,” said Rebecca Givan, an associate professor of labor studies at Rutgers. “What we’re seeing is the result of decades of squeezing workers. [Universities are] focusing on their shiny new buildings or sports or their public image and depending more and more on heavily exploited workers to achieve their mission and workers are saying that’s enough.”
The UC workers, represented by UAW 5810, UAW 2865 and SRU-UAW, are pushing for increased compensation – and say their current wages make it impossible to live in the cities where they work – as well as childcare reimbursements and job security protections. Academic workers say they struggle to afford rent in cities heavily impacted by California’s housing crisis – some report living in their cars – stress that has forced some people out of their chosen fields entirely.