Op-Ed: As a UC professor, I support the strikers. Our schools shouldn’t have let it come to this.
As you may have heard, the University and City of Berkeley (the UC) have been paralyzed. The two sides are both in the midst of a strike. This strike, which began in early January, appears to be the first in which the union has the majority on its side. I’m working on a series of op-ed pieces, starting with this one, which will be published in my new UC Berkeley Commentary column in the student newspaper.
The strike is over, but the impasse is not. The administration is holding out for some kind of concession—possibly less funding for the UC, or perhaps a promise from the administration to stop harassing and intimidating student protesters. We all know what that means: a “new deal.” It will leave the university in some kind of limbo for another two years with the unions and the rest of us having to continue paying their salaries for that time.
It seems like a reasonable compromise to agree to give the teachers and other workers bargaining unit a few more years of health insurance coverage so they could get treatment for the serious health problems that have hit these workers in the past few years. That wouldn’t prevent the school and the administration from implementing any changes they want.
But as students and parents of students, we need to talk about striking. The strike is on the side of students, who are the ones whose tuition dollars and housing are being spent to support a strike and have seen firsthand how a strike can destroy a college campus. The strike is also about free speech, and is supported by the UC’s right to speak. For that reason, we need to talk about what the strike is about.
It appears that the administration wants a compromise that would give them a few years of stability at the University with the unions at a certain cost. While the strike itself was a good thing for the UC, it has caused the administration to look at every proposal as a win or loss. There is no plan B.
The last time I was on strike at UC Berkeley,