48,000 University of California academics poised to strike Monday at 10 campuses for better wages

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO)– A statewide strike is threatening as nearly 50,000 UC academic staff will walk out Monday — an action that could cancel some classes just weeks before final exams.

“I will stand on the picket line,” said Margot Bezrutczyk.

Postdoc Bezrutczyk says banners will be painted and pickets will be ready for a strike on Monday.

“I have never felt such solidarity in my entire life,” she said.

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48,000 University of California academics — from researchers to teaching assistants — are planning a strike at UC’s 10 campuses after contract negotiations failed to reach an agreement last year. Union members, represented by the United Auto Workers, say wages are a key element of the dispute. Some university employees make less than $24,000 a year.

“When people are struggling to make ends meet and find housing, it means they can’t focus and provide a good education for our students,” said Samuel Chan, academic student assistant at UC Berkeley.

University officials say on their website that UC continues to negotiate in good faith with the union and is committed to finding solutions to outstanding issues.

UC Berkeley officials say they are preparing for a strike but expect little disruption, saying in a statement: “The campus expects classes to remain as planned, offices open and campus services to be normal or equivalent.” offers.”

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But students say many classes have already been canceled or postponed.

“I don’t know what to expect. Half of them said we might not have classes tomorrow,” said UC Berkeley student Arian Karimi.

“Pretty much all of my PhD-led panels are canceled because they’re on strike,” said Caroline Lobel, a graduate student at UC Berkeley.

And with final exams just weeks away, there are concerns.

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“If it goes on for a while, it could be very disruptive,” Karimi said.

“I assume that the ongoing strike will disrupt university activities – that’s part of the aim of the strike,” Bezrutczyk said.

A negotiation meeting was held at UC Irvine over the weekend, but no agreement had been reached as of Sunday night.

A union meeting is scheduled for Monday at 11:30 am in Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.

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