Academic workers conducting a sit-in protest at the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, in the city of Sacramento were arrested Monday amid a systemwide strike of UAW-represented workers.
Four weeks after the beginning of the “largest higher-education strike in American history,” protestors involved in the movement conducted sit-in demonstrations at several locations including UC Berkeley, UCOP in Oakland and UCOP in Sacramento, according to a union press release. During the sit-in, 17 academic workers were arrested after strikers refused to leave the location.
“I’m engaging in this act of civil disobedience because the stakes are incredibly high, and the UC is not demonstrating that they understand that,” said Jess Banks, a member of the bargaining team at UC Berkeley, in the press release. “UC thinks they can end negotiations and send us back to work, but this strike will continue until they stop breaking the law and settle a fair contract.”
Similar sit-in protests and strikes occurred in UC Berkeley buildings earlier this week and at the UCOP office in downtown Oakland on Monday afternoon, although no known arrests were made at these locations.
Anthony Desalvo, a graduate student and picket captain who was a part of the support team outside the Oakland office, noted that the university’s “final offer” given to the UAW 2865 and SRU-UAW bargaining teams at 1 a.m. on Saturday was not satisfactory.
“It’s really a necessity that we escalate at this point,” Desalvo said.
Some 25 academic workers occupied the Oakland UCOP office from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m., blocking an elevator bay and a lobby. They walked into a room where a committee discussing wages and inclusivity was holding a meeting, according to Margot Bezrutczyk, who is on the bargaining team for UAW 5810.
The members of the UC meeting were later escorted out of the building by security personnel with protesters chanting “shame” as they exited.
The protestors as a group were not asked to leave despite a large security presence, according to Alejandra Domenzain, an academic researcher who was present at the sit-in.
“The reason we’re protesting, the reason that we’re willing to risk arrest is because we are not heard,” Domenzain said. “What can you do? You try to bring your voice closer and closer to the people in power.”
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Samantha Lim, Natasha Kaye and Chrissa Olson contributed to this report.