UC Berkeley Labor Center and Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Statement on Academic Workers’ Strike

To the UC Berkeley Labor Center and IRLE Community,

On November 14, 48,000 workers at the University of California began the largest strike of academic workers in U.S. history. The striking workers include teaching assistants, student researchers, postdocs, academic researchers and academic student employees represented by three union locals.

These workers are essential to the teaching, research and outreach mission of the University of California—and to making UC a world-class institution. Many of our  staff, and our graduate student researchers, are in the striking bargaining units. The striking workers’ demands include living wages, support for working parents, transit benefits, and greater job security. You can find more information about the unions’ bargaining platform here. You can also find UC’s bargaining platform here.

Our research staff and graduate student researchers are vital to the work of the Labor Center and the Institute for Research on Labor Employment, as is the work of the university’s graduate student instructors to our teaching mission.  The issue of low pay for graduate students at UC is long-standing. In 2020, the UC Committee on Planning and Budget noted persistent structural issues with graduate student compensation, including housing and food insecurity. A commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion requires compensation that would permit those without external support to survive in a high-cost state.

We strongly support UC academic workers’ right to strike, and call on the University of California to bargain in good faith and reach fair contracts with the unions.

Steve Raphael, Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Ken Jacobs, Chair, UC Berkeley Labor Center
Brenda Muñoz, Associate Chair, UC Berkeley Labor Center