From: Solidarity and Social Justice Committee (SSJC) and Contract Committee (CC), Teaching Support Staff Union.
Today, striking graduate workers at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC) are under police threat for demanding that UCSC Administration match their wages to the rising cost of living. At UCSC, wages have not “fallen behind” cost of living, they have been eaten by it. As reported by Salon, “graduate student teaching assistants at UCSC make $2,434 a month before taxes, for only nine months of the year. The median monthly rent in Santa Cruz County is $1,685.” The strikers’ demand an increase of $1,412 to every graduate student regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment, or funding status and a promise that Administration will not increase tuition or campus fees to offset it. After months of contentious negotiations with the UCSC Administration and a grading strike starting in December, UCSC Graduate Workers finally went on a full strike on February 10, 2020. (1) So far, Administration has chosen to fight students rather than hear their needs. For our members, this story is a familiar one: we, too, have felt the failure of local housing markets to meet human needs, the cynicism of University Administration in the face of student poverty, and the necessity of direct action to make change.
Not only has UCSC Administration failed to provide fair wages to their TAs for years, UC President Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, has now threatened to violate their collective agreement (2) and fire more than 200 TAs for withholding grades. (3) This threat follows the Administration’s use of police violence to intimidate and arrest strikers. (4) (5) As press reports on the possible deportation of striking students (6) show, UCSC Administration is more concerned with their budget surplus than a duty of care to their students. The strikers have demanded amnesty for all involved in these actions; it must be granted. We condemn UCSC Administration and President Janet Napolitano, as well as the police, for their repression of students and workers. University Administration must do better.
To striking workers: Unlike those characterizing these actions as “illegal” or “unauthorized,” we know the history of the strike before labor law. We know that worker power does not come from the National Labor Relations Board, but from our solidarity. We also know that collective struggle takes many forms, so with our words we are including cash for your fight. Give ‘em hell today.