UCSC Sociology Faculty Statement on the UC-Wide Academic Worker Strike

November 18, 2022

The following is a statement of the UCSC Sociology Faculty on the UC-wide academic worker strike:

The faculty of the Sociology Department strongly support University of California academic workers—including academic student employees, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, and academic researchers—in the negotiation of a new contract that would make it viable to live on or near their home campuses while pursuing their studies. We urge the UCSC administration to persuade UCOP to bargain with the UAW in good faith and to take the proposals of the UAW bargaining team seriously. This is necessary to bring UC’s graduate student employee salary scale into line with that of our comparison institutions, to account for the cost of living in California, and to keep pace with the rate of inflation especially in rents and cost of living.

These challenges are all the more urgent given the critical shortage of affordable rental housing in cities across California. For the last decade, researchers in our own department—including the undergrads, grads, and faculty who undertook the No Place Like Home and Graduate Cost of Attendance and Living Calculator projects—have been studying the scope of our local affordable housing crisis in Santa Cruz County. Through this research we found UCSC students rank among the most heavily burdened renters in a market riven with overcrowding, extreme rent burden, major problems with housing, and displacement, and that these issues have serious impacts on students’ physical and emotional well being as well as academic success. Since No Place Like Home was completed in 2018, the problem has only worsened, as rents have risen an astonishing 67% and as the city of Santa Cruz has become the second-most expensive and the least affordable metro in the entire country (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2022). Meanwhile, we have also seen similar housing crises faced by students trying to make ends meet across all ten of our UC campuses.  

As a departmental community, we have always advocated for our graduate student colleagues in their studies and in their work. We did so during the 2019-2020 strike and we will continue to do so now. We well understand that students not only have the right to strike but also may need to strike to bring about a resolution that meets their pressing needs. We also believe that in doing so they can bring about changes that will benefit the broader UC community and state as a whole. Indeed, in their contract proposal and now through this strike, UC’s graduate student workers are helping UCOP and all of us make the case for increased state funding for both public higher education and affordable student housing—funding that we recognize will be necessary in the long term if we are to resolve this crisis and uphold the UC as a premiere research and teaching institution. Most immediately, our department and university rely on the labor of Academic Student Employees to carry out our research and teaching missions; supporting them in their current struggle for a living wage supports us all.

As part of our support, we will not cooperate with any retaliatory or disciplinary measures against lawful strike activity. Faculty will not be expected to make up for work not carried out by striking employees. We are at the same time aware that we have obligations to all of our students, undergraduate and graduate alike, and we are committed to their success. We will maintain open lines of communication under all circumstances.

 -- The Sociology Faculty

For detailed information about the union-sanctioned stop work order, bargaining, and how to support the students, refer to: www.fairucnow.org.

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