Thousands of researchers and student employees at the 10 University of California campuses went on strike at 8 a.m. Monday in an effort to secure improved pay and working conditions.
The strike by about 48,000 workers, including 17,000 student researchers, at UC San Diego, the nine other University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Tuesday entered its second day on Tuesday.
Professors canceled classes and truck drivers refused to cross the picket lines to deliver packages Monday in support of the nation’s largest strike since 2019, the largest at any academic institution, and first by postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, according to Rafael Jaime, president of UAW Local 2865, which represents the striking tutors, readers, graduate student instructors and teaching assistants.
Three tentative agreements were reached Monday, Jaime said.
“At this point, the priority should be round-the-clock bargaining in good faith as opposed to switching to a mediation process, Jaime said. “We remain willing and able to meet with the university on an ongoing basis to reach a resolution.”
Ryan King, spokesman for the University of California Office of the President, said in a statement Monday afternoon “at this time, we believe that the best path to an agreement is with the aid of a third-party mediator. We continue to encourage the union’s partnership in pursuing mediation.”
The university system’s “primary goal in these negotiations is achieving multiyear agreements that recognize these employees’ important and highly valued contributions to the university’s teaching and research mission with fair pay, quality health and family-friendly benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment,” King said in a statement provided to CNS.
“… We have listened carefully to UAW priorities with an open mind and a genuine willingness to compromise. Negotiations are progressing, and many tentative agreements have been reached on key issues such as a respectful work environment and health and safety matters. We are committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith and reaching full agreements as soon as possible,” the statement continued.
Compensation was “the biggest sticking point, both today and in previous sessions,” Jaime said.
“The university’s proposals do not adequately address the affordable housing crisis confronting our members,” Jaime said Monday.
Union officials say some of the employees make as little as $24,000 per year. Along with higher salaries and greater annual raises, the workers are demanding free public transit passes, improved child care benefits and greater job security.
City News Service contributed to this article.