UC student workers represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865 chapter held demonstrations at all 10 campuses on April 2 and 3 to speak against alleged abuse and unfair labor practices by UC administrators.
And despite several issues arising at several of the campuses — the most notable incident being the 20 arrests made at UC Santa Cruz on April 2 — the situation at UCR remained calm and collected with no reported threats made and no law enforcement present to quell any disobedience.
“Today went very well,” said Kris Lovekin, Director of Media Relations at UCR. “The demonstrators respected the rights of others to go to class and did not obstruct university operations.”
Jason Struna, a teacher’s assistant in the sociology department and recording secretary for the UCR UAW 2865 student workers’ union had similar sentiments and observations.
“No particular incidents of abuse (or intimidation) have been committed here at UCR,” he said. “Other incidents have happened with the bargaining team at UC Irvine and at Berkeley. It’s been relatively respectful here.”
At UCR, an estimated two dozen members and supporters of UAW 2865 held signs saying, “Just say no to unfair labor practices” and “Low pay is not okay.” The rally began at 9 a.m. at Hinderaker Hall and ended at the campus entrance by the Arts Building at 5 p.m.. Demonstrators also made stops at the Bell Tower and Campus West Drive throughout the day.
In their press release, the UAW 2865 recalled several examples of alleged abuse, writing that in the past several months, the UC has developed a pattern of intimidation and threats toward UAW members. Several alleged examples include UCLA management illegally warning international students to not join in any protests or they would lose their work visas; and the department head of UC Santa Cruz’s writing program allegedly threatening to fire any TAs who participated in protests, charging the UC of committing an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP).
“TAs are people too,” said Irene Morrison, a first-year UCR doctoral student in English. “They deserve living wages, fair schedules and worker’s rights. The push against intimidation is both personal and political.”
With bargaining days scheduled for April 15 and 16 between the administration and the UAW 2865 chapter on campus, the university has made amiable attempts to work with the labor union, according to Lovekin.
“The university has been fair in regards to labor practices,” said Lovekin. “For instance, people received emails asking if they could work which is allowable. The university is trying to determine who’s going to be there and who’s not to try to make the best decisions. There are no repercussions. We are not trying to punish people.”
John Gust, the unit chair and local press secretary for the UCR UAW 2865 chapter hopes that their commitment and dedication spurs university officials to negotiate in a fair and equitable way.
“We hope the content of the contract is part of it, but it is not why we are out here today. We need them to respect the process. Movement at the table, but it’s not what we are pushing for. We just want the process to be fair and equitable.”
Arturo Gomez, a first-year political science student currently running for the CHASS senate said he wants to bring a populist edge in workers’ rights.
“The strikes are an important task for the Senate,” he said. “I’m not a TA, but I sympathize with how stressful being a TA can be. It’s important that all students know about this.”