Updated Nov 14, 2022 - Economy

University of California academic workers stage largest strike of 2022

Signage outside the University of California, Berkeley in July 2017.

Signage outside the University of California, Berkeley in July 2017. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of academic workers at University of California campuses on Monday went on strike demanding better pay and benefits, according to the workers' union, the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Why it matters: The strike, which union officials said is the largest of the year and the largest in higher education history, could disrupt classes at all of the UC's 10 campuses across the state.

What they're saying: "Our union stands with our members in California as they fight for fairness and an equitable collective bargaining agreement," UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement.

  • "This strike is the largest in the nation, the biggest of the year and the largest at any academic institution in history," he added. "We urge the University of California to stop their misconduct and bargain in good faith with their academic workers who perform critical work every day."

The University of California told Axios that it is trying to mitigate the strike's impact on students by offering additional support and resources.

  • The UC system has also conducted over 50 bargaining sessions with the UAW, reaching tentative agreements on key issues like a respectful work environment and health and safety matters, the statement said.
  • "These employees make valuable contributions to the University’s teaching and research mission in both part-time and full-time roles, and we believe our offers of fair pay, quality health and family-friendly benefits, among other proposals, are fair, reasonable, and responsive to the union’s concerns," the UC said in the statement.

The big picture: The estimated 48,000 academic workers who walked off the job — including postdocs, academic and graduate student researchers and grad student instructors — are calling for a minimum annual salary of $54,000 and better affordable housing alternatives.

  • They are also seeking better child-care benefits, including $2,000 monthly childcare reimbursements and expanded paid parental and family leave.
  • UC Berkeley officials told students they did not know when the strike would end because it's open-ended and will not end after a set amount of days.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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