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On Strike!!
by Steve Pleich (spleich [at] gmail.com)
Friday Feb 21st, 2020 6:44 PM
Show Up, Stand Up, Speak Up!!
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The University of California Santa Cruz graduate student strike escalated on Friday, as students acting in defiance of the United Auto Workers (UAW) continued their all-day picket which was supported by a several hundred strong march from Quarry Plaza to the picket line at Bay and High Streets. Graduate students are maintaining their action in the face of constant police presence and a virtual wall of silence from the university administration. Despite modest media coverage, support for the movement is growing across the UC system and the continuing action is drawing widespread support from students, faculty, and workers across the country. UCSC grad students’ are demanding a substantial cost of living adjustment (COLA) of $1,412 per month for graduate students living off roughly $2,400 per month in one of the most expensive areas in the country.

The so-called "wildcat action" began in December with a grading strike by roughly 200 teaching assistants, who have refused to turn in final grades accounting for 70-90% of UCSC Fall 2019 classes until their demands are met. The action has since escalated into a full strike, which was met with a strong police response resulting in a number of arrests. There are reports of an ultimatum that threatens students with disciplinary action up to and including dismissal if they do not submit Fall 2019 grades by midnight Friday. There are also reports that UCSC administration has even issued threats of deportation to international students, “reminding” students that participation in a wildcat strike is not, in itself, a violation of your immigration status. However, any actions that result in subsequent discipline or arrest may have immigration consequences. The strikers say that if hundreds of graduate student workers are terminated from employment, whole departments will be unable to offer courses next quarter and dozens of international graduate students will effectively face deportation.

Despite threats and intimidation, support for the strikers is growing. Graduate students at UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego have drafted COLA demands and presented them to university leadership. Workers at other universities have begun circulating a pledge to join the grade strike if any retaliation is taken against the Santa Cruz strike and Santa Cruz Metro Transit buses are not crossing the picket line.

This UAW agreement currently in place was negotiated by the union's top executives but which UCSC students voted down by 83%. The dire conditions that graduate students are forced to work in are but a symptom of the bipartisan attack on public educators being carried out across the country by the Trump Administration. Securing COLA at UC Santa Cruz is a fight that must be won both in the street and the workplace. But more broadly, the fight for decent wages for graduate students is necessarily a fight against the war budget, the attacks on immigrants, and the obscene level of inequality.

This writers urges all those who cherish economic justice and educational equality to Show Up, Stand Up and Speak up in support the UCSC grad students.

On Strike!!
§Hundreds of Supporters March from Quarry Plaza
by Steve Pleich Friday Feb 21st, 2020 6:44 PM
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