Editorial: A strike by UC academic workers would tarnish the prestigious university system
On Nov. 5, University of California Faculty for Peace and Justice announced that it would be boycotting the upcoming Nov. 24 football game between UCLA and USC because of a contract dispute over contract concessions the university has offered to athletic department employees in the past few years.
The strike would have serious repercussions for this university’s mission and would have a chilling effect on students who enjoy what this system stands for.
Faculty for Peace and Justice joins a growing list of students and other workers who have been protesting the treatment of workers through the UC system since the beginning of this decade. This list includes the Occupy students in 2012, the workers in the food service and security units in 2012, the Occupy protests in 2014 and 2016, the strikes against the school’s “gig economy” for its contract with Uber, the students at Stanford University in 2017, and the student labor strikes of 1968.
It should be noted that this is a unique protest of a public school system and that it has been planned for almost a year. What may be more significant to the students is the effect that the strike would have on UC students. It would show them that this system is not immune to the problems that students often experience on college campuses: low wages, poor health benefits, low wages for many workers with student loans, and working conditions that are dangerous and unsafe. The union workers would be able to show how they are being pushed to the margins of this system and how the system is not able to support these workers.
That is why it is troubling that this protest has been organized in such a short time. The university is seeking to negotiate an agreement with the union workers that would not only create better conditions for the workers but it would also have a negative impact on the reputation of this elite school. That is why it has taken this action despite that the university has made it clear it will not bargain with the union union workers.
In the midst of all of this, the university has been pushing away employees who don’t share this anti-union sentiment.