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Where and when would a strike take place?
The multi-unit strike of Postdocs, Academic Researchers, Student Researchers, and Academic Student Employees is planned to begin at 8am on Monday, November 14th on every UC campus and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The bargaining teams have declared strikes to protest the University’s unlawful behavior and in sympathy and solidarity with the other Academic Workers at UC. It will last until the University corrects its bad faith conduct, or until union membership decides to cease striking.
Reach out to email@example.com if you’d like to get involved in organizing for mass participation!
Why announce a strike now?
During many months of bargaining, we have made strong proposals to guarantee dignified compensation and equity in the workplace, but progress is being thwarted by UC’s unlawful conduct. The University has committed wide ranging unfair labor practices impacting each of the four respective UAW units. These unlawful actions, be they bypassing the union, unilateral changes or failure to provide information, remain uncured and are impacting our ability to achieve necessary change at the bargaining tables with UC. The unlawful actions go to the heart of some key issues such as compensation, transit, and necessary information on a host of other critical topics. This type of bad faith conduct cannot go unchecked.
We of course hope the University will reverse course and engage in good faith conduct and fix their unlawful actions which will give us a path to fair agreements with each of the Academic Worker units. However, we must exercise our right to strike if they continue to not meet their legal obligations to our members under CA bargaining law.
When and how was the strike authorized?
Strike Authorization Votes were held from October 26 – November 2nd and all UAW-represented Academic Workers were encouraged to participate. 36,558 total votes were cast, with 98% voting Yes to authorize a multi-unit strike if necessary.
With supermajority participation, these were far and away the largest and most decisive strike authorization votes ever taken by Academic Workers in the United States.
Is there a template email I can send to my supervisor?
You can find a template email for ASEs to send to their supervisors here.
What unlawful actions has UC committed at the bargaining table?
UC’s unlawful actions include making unilateral changes to our working conditions without negotiating, refusal to provide necessary information for negotiations, and obstructing the bargaining process. Academic workers have filed more than 25 charges with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) regarding these actions. See this tracker of unfair labor practice charges filed against UC’s unlawful actions.
What will the strike look like?
A strike is a complete work stoppage. During a strike, Academic Workers will not perform our work duties related to teaching and research and will instead participate in picket lines in and around our campuses to increase the visibility of the strike. Check out picket line information and sign up for at least 5 picket shifts per week at: fairucnow.org/picket
What makes a strike effective?
Academic Workers perform the majority of teaching and research at the university. When Academic Workers withhold our labor, UC will be forced to correct its unlawful behavior or cease to function. The more Academic Workers who participate, the more collective power we will have.
Mass participation on picket lines will also create a crisis for UC. When thousands of workers demonstrate our solidarity publicly while withholding our labor, labor movement allies and legislators with influence over the University will add their weight behind us to compel UC to bargain in good faith.
Do I have the legal right to participate in a strike?
Yes. It is unlawful under California law to fire or discipline workers for participating in a lawful strike. This protection also applies to international and undocumented scholars. Ultimately, our greatest protection is robust mass participation: there is strength in numbers.
Am I allowed strike if I am an international or undocumented student or scholar?
Yes, international and undocumented workers have the same rights as domestic workers under the law to participate in union activities, including strikes. For more info, see fairucnow.org/internationalfaq
Will I be paid while I am on strike?
Academic Workers have the right to strike. UC also has the right to not pay us for the work we don’t do while on strike. In the event of a strike, Academic Workers who complete our strike duties and are UAW members will be eligible for $400 per week of strike pay. In order to enroll in strike pay, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (See “Do we have a strike fund? How do I access strike benefits?” below for more info).
Do we have a strike fund? How do I access strike benefits?
Yes, as members of UAW, UC Academic Workers have access to UAW’s Strike and Defense Fund after losing pay for participating in a sanctioned strike. Strike benefits are $400 per week in strike pay, along with medical benefits in the event that UC withholds healthcare benefits. Strike pay is only available to members in good standing who participate in 20 hours per week of picket duties. Student Researchers who are negotiating a first contract will need to fill out a union authorization card, or a UAW 2865 membership card, before enrolling for strike benefits. You can do so at fairucnow.org/join.
Additionally, UAW Locals 2865 and 5810 have established a hardship fund that will contribute to workers who experience emergency financial hardship due to lost pay. That fund can be found here: https://givebutter.com/uc-uaw.
Will the University ask me to attest whether I am working or not?
The University may ask Academic Workers to “attest” as to whether they worked, or not, during a strike. These are forms that Universities sometimes use to assess whether or not to deduct pay for work not performed during a strike. It is unlawful to ask workers to fill out strike attestation forms before a strike or before a relevant payroll period. There is power in numbers: workers should fill out these forms truthfully and accurately, but only after the work has been struck.
Am I eligible for strike benefits if I’m an international or undocumented worker?
Yes. You would receive strike pay ($400 per week) from the UAW Strike and Defense fund to mitigate lost wages. This is similar to when workers receive Short Term Disability Benefits from an insurance company when they’re not working while on disability or pregnancy leave.
Can UC withhold my healthcare benefits if I’m on strike?
Under California law, public sector employers are prohibited from withholding health benefits from striking workers. If UC does nonetheless attempt to withhold health benefits during a strike, Academic Workers would have our medical benefits paid through the UAW Strike and Defense Fund.
Can UC withhold my tuition benefits if I’m on strike?
The University would be violating the law and our contractual rights if they withheld tuition benefits from striking workers. If UC does nonetheless attempt to withhold tuition benefits during a strike, Academic Workers would be eligible for support from the Union’s Hardship Fund.
Can I be disciplined in my role as a student for exercising my right to strike?
No, the University cannot retaliate against you for exercising your right to participate in lawful concerted labor activity. When you strike in your TA or SR position, you are protected from retaliation in every aspect of your relation to the university. This applies to all student workers who are represented by UAW.
Teaching Assistants and other bargaining unit members who perform research work as part of a credit-based course have the right to engage in protected concerted activities such as participating in a lawful strike. You’re expected to continue making academic progress. However, you have the right to not cross the picket line to perform this research work. Academic obligations that you miss while on strike may have to be made up after the strike.
Can I use vacation or personal time off during the strike?
No. Academic workers cannot use vacation or personal time off while simultaneously striking. The University can withhold our pay for work duties not performed, and workers will have access to strike pay. See “Do we have a strike fund? How do I access strike benefits?”
Will the University care if we go on strike?
Yes. Academic Workers perform critical work every day. Additionally, a strike would be highly visible, showing the solidarity of tens of thousands of Academic Workers and attracting media attention and political support for our right to fair working conditions. Members of other unions can support us in a variety of ways. The combination of stopping research and teaching, media coverage, and political pressure generated by a strike would absolutely impact the UC.
Isn’t going on strike only hurting ourselves because our research would suffer?
While participating in a strike will require all of us to make sacrifices, this action also gives academic workers the collective power to end UC’s unlawful actions that are aimed at undermining our unions and preventing agreements on vital improvements. When Academic Workers are treated fairly under the law such that we can address our working conditions at the table, this will in turn improve teaching and research at UC.
What do I do instead of work if we go on strike?
During a strike, Academic Workers would participate in various strike duties including picketing in and around campus, phonebanking, outreach to allies, and strike coordination efforts. You can see information from your campus and fill out a form to perform various duties here: fairucnow.org/picket
What should I do with my live test subjects during a strike?
It’s ultimately the UC’s responsibility to make sure that any basic lab maintenance happens during a strike. There are also ways that you can prepare for a potential strike. These plans could include advance-planning your experiments or informing supervisors that they may need to make alternative plans to take care of these subjects.
What do I need to do to qualify for strike pay in the event of a strike?
The International Union UAW requires that only members in good standing are eligible for strike pay. In addition, to demonstrate a powerful, mass participation strike across 11 UC locations throughout California, we will all need to complete the following strike duties to receive strike pay:
- Five picket or other strike duty shifts per week. Each day will be divided into two equal shifts of 4 hours in length, morning and evening, so 5 shifts is equivalent to one half-day of picketing per day of the week.
- Campuses may substitute marches, rallies, or other activities for picket shifts, but members across all campuses must complete at least five picket or other strike duty shifts per week to receive strike pay.
In addition to picket duty, other types of picket support may substitute depending on campus needs, and the access needs of picketers. These types of duties may include:
- Phone banking, picket line support, and collecting materials for the picket line. Assignments to various duties will be based on campus needs and individual members’ disability access needs.
- Each campus unit(s) will have elected leaders devoted to organizing non-picket strike duties.
- In the event a member is unable to complete all of their picket duties for any reason, they should contact their strike captain to make contingency plans.
You can fill out the form for which duties you will perform here: fairucnow.org/picket
Do I still have to make academic progress while on strike?
Do I still need to take my final exams while I am on strike?
Yes, you are expected to continue making academic progress, including by taking final exams, while on strike. The vast majority of UC Professors have scheduled remote or take home final exams so that strikers do not have to cross a picket line to take an exam. If your professor has scheduled an on-campus final exam that would cause you to cross a picket line, you can find a template email to send to your professor below.
As I’m sure you are aware, graduate student employees represented by UAW Local 2865 and Student Researchers United-UAW launched a strike on November 14, 2022 in response to unfair labor practices committed by the University, which have frustrated ongoing bargaining for fair contracts. You can read more about the strike here: https://www.fairucnow.org/
We are writing to request that you provide a remote final exam option. As you may know, the vast majority of UC Professors have set up remote final exams so that strikers do not have to cross a picket line. The Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) guarantees student employees the right to engage in strike activity, including refusing to cross an authorized picket line. Scheduling an on-campus final exam behind a picket line thus interferes with graduate student employees’ protected rights.
We are committed to continue making academic progress during this strike, and we hope that you will respect our rights to engage in strike activity free from unlawful interference.
All the Best,