The University of California strike has entered its third week with little progress on a new contract.
Workers are demanding higher wages and better benefits and on Monday, hundreds of faculty members from across the UC system announced a work stoppage to show their solidarity with some of the striking student workers. For some students, that means final exams could be canceled.
Monday’s latest development made it evident that the two sides are still far from an agreement.
For instance, part-time academic student employees (ASEs) currently make between about $23,000 and $29,000 a year.
UC is offering them a 7% raise, but union members are asking for $54,000, which would more than double some of the current salaries.
“Though it sounds like a lot, it takes only 3% of the university’s current annual budget,” said Kien Le, a UCI grad student and student worker.
More than 40 of the faculty members participating in a work stoppage are from UC Irvine where finals are just a week away.
“The strike began in week seven of the ten-week quarter. So, classes where the faculty are honoring the picket line or the classes that are taught by a graduate student instructor will have stopped as of week seven,” said Annie Mcclanahan, Associate Professor of English at UC Irvine. “This is week ten that we’re in right now, and then next week will be finals week. And so in those contexts, the classes and finals will not be happening for undergraduates.”
The news of that work stoppage prompted a message from Georg Striedter, chair of the Academic Senate at UC Irvine, which was sent out to faculty and reads in part:
“If faculty wish to drop upcoming assignments or exams and base final grades on students’ performance to date, they should consider how such a change may affect students, especially those who are expecting upcoming assignments or exams to improve their grades. Their disappointment could lead to grade disputes and pursuance of formal appeals.”
Mcclanahan told KTLA that some students who could benefit from taking final exams might still be able to take exams given to them by teachers, but the results of those tests would likely be held until some sort of resolution to the strike is reached. That decision would be up to the professor.
Until then, there is no deal in sight.