United Auto Workers, a labor union representing workers in the United States and Canada, will be going on a statewide strike beginning Nov. 14 at the 10 UC campuses to protest graduate student wages, workload and overall working conditions.
Undergraduates can participate in a number of ways to use their powerful bargaining positions to help.
First, and most importantly, we are urging students to not cross picket lines to attend class. Undergraduate students have very valid concerns about their grades and their academic futures during the strike — and this makes a lot of sense, but one should champion the consideration of what many graduate students face daily. Having to work without enough pay to afford food, living costs or care for family feels unimaginable for some undergraduate students. In support of the graduate students who keep the UC Berkeley campus running, one of the most powerful things you can do is not attend class Nov. 14 — and instead join in the refusal to condone UC campus treatment of and pay for graduate student instructors and teaching assistants.
If you are not attending class, we also urge you to share why with your professor, lecturer or instructor, especially if you are in a class that has not openly addressed the strikes. A simple email detailing that you will not attend class in support of graduate students can go a long way in showing campus how serious this strike will be.
Before the strike begins, if you are a part of a class that has not addressed striking, bring it up in conversation with your peers and urge your professor to directly address what they will do — if anything — in support of graduate students.
As a large campus, we have enormous power when it comes to bargaining with the institution of UC Berkeley if we stand together — and standing with graduate students can benefit everyone. If you also want to eventually attend graduate school, you not only stand for them, but for yourself and future generations of graduate students across the UC system.
Even if it doesn’t seem to directly impact you, please consider this: There is nothing more important than banding together to ensure fair treatment and compensation for labor, so workers do not have to live on the brink of poverty. While individual voices can call for action, when we stand together, all of us have the momentum to challenge systems of power for what we deserve.