*This was originally published as part of CSPG's Weekly Newsletter, Poster of the Week, on January 5th, 2023.
There's No Turning Back We Will Win
UCLA Labor Center
Los Angeles, California
The last month of 2022 witnessed an important win for unionized workers. On December 23 — six weeks after 48,000 unionized University of California TAs, tutors, researchers, and postdoctoral scholars withheld their labor — these workers voted to ratify an agreement with UC Regents to:
Increase by 46% the minimum pay from $23,250 to $34,000 for nine months part-time work by October 2024 ($36,500 for students at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and UCLA)
Increase paid family leave and pay for 100% of dependent child health care premiums
Provide supplemental tuition for up to three years for eligible international student employees
Raise the minimum pay of postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers to $70,000, the highest in the nation (ratified December 9)
The massive strike has already inspired other academic workers across the country, as it illustrated the effective power of worker unionization. During the strike, 53,000 UPS workers refused service to UC campuses, and construction workers at UC Berkeley suspended their work in solidarity.
68.4% of SRU-UAW’s 17,000 graduate students and 61.6% of UAW 2885’s 19,000 TAs, tutors and other academic workers approved the agreement. Of those who did not support the agreement, some felt the pay increase was not enough compared to the harsh cost-of-living increases of California cities. Others were disappointed that the bargaining committee dropped demands that would have aided students with disabilities and the call to defund the UC Police. The successes of the strike are hopefully the beginning of a new era of increased workers’ power in opposition to corporate strength. It is not the end of the struggle but the beginning.