Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

48,000 University of California Academic Workers Begin Historic Strike

On November 14, 48,000 academic workers across the University of California system began the largest higher education strike in history. Their fight could inspire higher education workers across the country.

Brian H. Silverstein

November 15, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

On Monday morning, 48,000 education workers, graduate students, postdocs, academic researchers, and teaching assistants represented by the UAW across the University of California system went on strike. This comes after over a year of failed negotiations during which the UAW filed almost 30 unfair labor practice complaints against the University. This historic strike is both the first time postdocs have gone on strike in U.S. history and the biggest strike in California in 10 years. Workers are in a strong position with large turnout across campuses. The strike has been further strengthened by a solidarity strike sanction for Teamsters-organized to UC campuses, and permission for construction workers to not cross picket lines for developments on campus.

At the UC San Diego campus, hundreds of workers joined the picket lines where the energy was forceful and defiant. The UC administration had attempted to negotiate until the 11th hour to prevent the strike, but their offers didn’t match worker demands. Academic workers in the UC system are fighting for a fair contract, with broad demands anchored by pay increases that account for inflation. 

Across the state, 90 percent of graduate workers and over 60 percent of postdocs are rent burdened. Last year, UCSD increased rents in student housing by up to 85 percent, meaning some students put as much as 75 percent of their income toward housing. Additionally, in a state with very little public transit — and as tackling climate change becomes more urgent — access to reliable transportation and greater investment in cycling infrastructure is a central demand for the union. The union is also demanding longer minimum appointment durations for workers such as postdocs and academic researchers who are often kept in precarious employment and unable to push back against abusive labor practices due to these short contracts. 

These dire conditions for education workers and the unwillingness of UC to pay them is a result of neoliberal austerity policies which cut funding for education and forced the universities to rely on tuition and private investment. In fact, public funding for universities is at a historic low. Thus, striking for better material conditions is important but without structural change, workers will eventually find themselves squeezed again. As the fighting spirit of labor builds across the country, demands must expand beyond economic demands to political change.

UC workers are not alone in their fight for better living conditions. With strike authorizations at Temple University, The New School, and negotiations brewing at University of Michigan, eyes are on the UC strike. What happens here will set a precedent for campus worker struggles across the country.

Facebook Twitter Share

Labor Movement

“Grueling Working Conditions and Low Wages”: A Testimonial from a UPS Warehouse Worker

Workers in UPS warehouses are among the most precarious workers in the logistics industry. As the 2023 Teamsters contract negotiations approaches, a UPS warehouse worker speaks out about his working conditions and calls for unity in struggle among UPS drivers and warehouse workers.

Nehuen Latif

November 30, 2022
Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Logo on a grey building.

Workers Built Twitter — They Should Own It, Not Elon Musk

Corporations like Twitter cannot function without the workers who do the daily labor.

Kyle Thibodeau

November 27, 2022

Education Workers Have the Power to Win in Toronto

A rank-and-file educational worker who participated in the historic strike earlier this month in Toronto discusses how fellow workers can fight back against the Doug Ford administration and win their demands.

Martin Reilly

November 20, 2022

Judge Upholds Firing of UPS Activist for Union Rally In Major Attack on Workers’ Rights and Free Speech

Late last month, in a major blow to workers’ rights and free speech, a judge at an arbitration panel upheld the discharge of UPS driver Ben Douglass. His crime? Speaking out against management retaliation at a rally outside his facility.

Left Voice

November 14, 2022


The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

Understanding the Carnage at Colorado Springs

The heinous violence displayed in Colorado Springs is a stark reminder of the menacing, lethal threat that today’s determined far right continues to pose to trans and queer people, and anyone living outside capitalism’s imposed sexual and gender boundaries.

Keegan O'Brien

December 4, 2022
Mapuche people standing with a flag

The Case of the Mapuche: What Can Trotsky Teach Us about the Fight against National Oppression?

Trotsky’s reflections on the social aspect of permanent revolution have deep implications for building working-class hegemony through solidarity with oppressed peoples.

Juan Valenzuela

December 4, 2022