Here's why 48,000 University of California academic workers are on strike

ByLena Howland via KGO logo
Monday, November 14, 2022
48,000 UC academic workers on strike
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"We are demanding a living wage to be able to live where we work, not live in poverty when we do," one graduate student researcher at UC Berkeley said.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly 50,000 University of California academic workers have walked off the job on Monday, striking for better pay and working conditions.

Despite a final-hour bargaining session, held at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, it wasn't enough to stop this strike from happening.

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"We are demanding a living wage to be able to live where we work, not live in poverty when we do," Tarini Hardikar, a graduate student researcher at UC Berkeley said.

Postdocs, academic researchers, student researchers and academic student employees in Berkeley are among the academic workers demanding better pay and better working conditions, as some university employees make less than $24,000 a year.

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"Our budgets just grow smaller and smaller like even though the salary we get paid is the same," Henry Liu, a student researcher at UC Berkeley said.

Liu says his budget has only gotten tighter with inflation and he barely makes enough to afford his Berkeley apartment.

"Personally, I pay about half or sometimes even slightly more than half of my monthly income in terms of just rent and sometimes utilities," he said.

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This is happening not just in Berkeley, but across all ten UC campuses state-wide, making this the largest academic strike in higher education history, according to their union, the United Auto Workers.

"Regarding overall campus operations during the strike, offices will be open, instruction and research will take place, and the campus will provide normal or equivalent services," a spokesperson for UC Berkeley said in an emailed statement.

But those on the strike line, seem to have other ideas.

"I don't think they're going to have class. I think this is a testament to the fact that we do a bulk of the teaching and a bulk of the research here and UC works because we do and we're not working," Hardikar said.

A union rally happened at 11:30 a.m. on Monday at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.

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