This post was updated March 5 at 2:42 p.m.
The University of California filed unfair labor practice charges against a student worker union Tuesday in response to strikes at UC Santa Cruz.
The UC claims that United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents UC student workers, failed to take steps required by its collective bargaining agreement to stop wildcat strikes, or strikes that are not authorized by the union, said UC spokesperson Andrew Gordon in an emailed statement.
UCSC graduate students first went on the wildcat strike in December in an attempt to gain cost-of-living adjustments, refusing to hand in fall grades.
As part of a second strike starting Feb. 10, UCSC graduate students have refused to teach, grade or hold office hours. Police arrested at least 17 protesters by the third day of the strike, and UC President Janet Napolitano previously threatened to fire any teaching assistants continuing to strike.
UC Santa Barbara graduate students voted to join UCSC recently, planning to strike Thursday in pursuit of a cost-of-living adjustment.
UCSC announced Monday it would be providing MFA and doctoral students with a $2,500 retroactive housing supplement, on the condition that teaching assistants turn in fall grades and resume their duties.
The wildcat strikes negatively impact undergraduate students, Gordon said in the statement.
“(Students’) hard-earned grades and progression to the next course level are being inappropriately leveraged,” Gordon said.
Gordon added the UC believes UAW Local 2865’s contract has fair pay and benefits.
“The University has honored the contract, and we expect teaching assistants to do the same,” Gordon wrote.
However, Alec Uebersohn, the financial secretary of UAW Local 2865, said in a press release that since the union has not authorized the strike, it is not in violation of its agreement with the UC.
“While everyone empathizes with the strikers and believes that it is time for a cost of living adjustment (COLA), the strikers on their own have decided if, when and how to strike,” Uebersohn said in an emailed statement.
Uebersohn added it is important any changes be included under a contract, so it is legally enforceable, unlike the housing supplement from UCSC.
According to a press release from UAW Local 2865, the union asked the UC to negotiate a solution Jan. 15, but the University refused.
Napolitano asked the UC Graduate and Professional Council on Friday to meet to discuss graduate student concerns. The UCGPC said it would meet with Napolitano, but it would not negotiate a contract.
Uebersohn said in the statement the UC has been told numerous times that it must talk to the union about cost-of-living adjustments.
“Instead, to avoid talking with the union and weaken (student workers’ voices), but still feign like they are respecting graduate student employees, they are opting to talk with the graduate student government and not bargain with the union,” Uebersohn wrote.