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48,000 University of California workers strike for fair wages

Workers across 10 University of California campuses are striking for fair wages with 48,000 workers walking off the job. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Workers across 10 University of California campuses are striking for fair wages with 48,000 workers walking off the job. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Workers across 10 University of California campuses are on strike Monday as they seek better wages.

About 48,000 workers are striking, including 17,000 student researchers who are seeking their first contracts. Teachers' assistants, tutors and other student employees are among those who walked off campus after negotiations with school administrators failed to reach a resolution for higher wages and benefits

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The United Auto Workers Union is representing the workers in negotiations. In October the union issued a statement accusing the university of breaking workplace laws.

"The University of California is a premier public university system, but there is nothing exceptional about how they have chosen to behave," said Region 8 Director Mitchell Smith. "They chose to break the law and frustrate the bargaining process instead of respecting the rights of their thousands of academic workers."

Graduate workers at the university voted in favor of striking indefinitely over the weekend, authorizing the largest strike in U.S. history.

Strike coordinator Jack Davies told KSBW-TV in Salinas, Calif., that teaching assistants make about $20,000-25,000 per year. According to the college's admissions office, off-campus housing and meals cost about $15,000 per year. Graduate student workers said they spend as much as half of their monthly wage on rent alone, according to ABC7 Los Angeles.

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"Our primary demand is to get living wages, to have living situations that match the cost of living, that match the vital work that we do to not only sustain the university but make the University of California the prestigious institution that it is," said graduate student researcher Desmond Fonseca.

The university said it will try to mitigate the effects of missing about 48,000 workers, while negotiating "in good faith" with the union.

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