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Education

UC strike shows no sign of ending as finals loom

Courtesy of Joe Riley
Striking UC San Diego academic workers shut down streets around campus as they march demanding better pay and benefits on Nov. 28, 2022.

As UC San Diego students prepare for the start of finals on Dec. 3, academic workers across the whole UC system have entered the third week of a strike. On Monday, hundreds of those workers shut down several streets around UCSD, marching to demand better pay and benefits.

Forty-eight thousand workers walked off the job earlier this month. Negotiations are continuing, and both sides say they’ve made some tentative agreements, but they haven’t agreed on pay, housing and tuition costs.

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Teaching assistant Aidee Mariscal is the UCSD unit chair for UAW 2865, the union that represents the striking workers throughout the UC system. She said academic workers are "the workhorses" of the university system, working for the lowest pay, and said they have been overlooked for a long time.

Mariscal said to survive, she has often had two other jobs on top of her teaching assistant job, while also going to school. She said that kind of workload makes it hard to do her best for her students.

"You want to be able to make sure that they get the best lesson plan and grade everybody and provide great feedback," she said. "It’s hard to be able to focus on all of this when you’re wondering, 'How am I going to get my groceries, how am I going to pay my rent, make enough money or little enough money to qualify for food stamps?'"

In a statement, a spokesperson for the UC system noted the two sides have reached agreements "on issues ranging from workplace accessibility, to respectful work environments, to nondiscrimination in employment."

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The spokesperson also said the UC system's proposals "would place our graduate students and academic employees at the top of the pay scale across major public universities and on par with top private universities," and admitted, "we remain apart on key issues related to tying wages and pay increases to housing costs and tuition remission for nonresident international students."

Negotiations are taking place daily. Mariscal said the strikers would also be out daily, "until we hear back from the UC and we get a fair contract."