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San Francisco, Nov 15 (UiTV/IANS) – Tens of thousands of workers at the University of California (UC) system went on a strike to demand for higher wages and better working conditions.
About 48,000 unionised academic workers across the University of California’s 10 campuses walked off the job on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, noting that those academic workers perform the majority of teaching and research at the premier higher education system in California.
The systemwide strike includes teaching assistants, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, tutors and fellows, as well as workers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and it is expected to cause major disruptions in classes and day-to-day campus life, said the repor.
The University of California, a leading public research university system in the country, has more than 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff nowadays.
The university said on its official website that it is currently in contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) which represents UC academic employee groups in four separate bargaining units: postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers, academic student employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors), and graduate student researchers.
The UAW is demanding the University of California increase salaries so workers no longer have to live on what they described as “poverty wages”, reported the Los Angeles-based KTLA TV station.
“Inflation has bitten into our earnings in a huge, huge way,” the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Teaching Fellow/Union Representative Michael Dean was quoted as saying by KTLA.
He added that proposals made by the university so far don’t even match the rate of inflation and “amounts to a real wage cut”.
UAW Local 5810, the union of more than 11,000 postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers at all 10 campuses of the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, urged all 48,000 UC academic workers who are physically able, to walk out and strke.
“A huge turn-out at the picket line on day 1 is critical to demonstrating to UC that academic workers are united and determined to stop UC’s obstruction,” the statement added.
The University of California noted that it “strongly disagree with the UAW allegations that UC has engaged in unlawful behaviour” and “continues to negotiate in good faith” with the union and is committed to working collaboratively with the UAW to finding solutions to outstanding issues.