UCLA graduate students vote to strike for COLA, pending approval from 10 departments
Hundreds of students rally Thursday in support of cost-of-living adjustments for graduate student workers. They voted to strike next week pending the approval of graduate students in 10 departments. (Niveda Tennety/Assistant Photo editor)
This post was updated March 5 at 6:01 p.m.
Nearly 100 graduate students voted Thursday to go on strike starting next week, pending the approval of graduate students in at least 10 departments.
The wildcat strike, a strike not approved by a union, will continue indefinitely until graduate students’ demands for higher wages and affordable housing are met, striking workers said.
The student-workers, who gathered for a rally on Janss Steps on Thursday, agreed they would strike only if 10 different departments release statements agreeing to participate. Participating graduate students will not teach or grade if the strike occurs.
Graduate students from at least three departments – including anthropology, gender studies and Chicana and Chicano studies – have expressed support for the strike, but no department has officially released a statement of support.
Organizers may pursue alternative forms of protest if not enough departments approve the strike, said Sucharita Kanjilal, an organizer and an anthropology graduate student. Graduate students from each department will collectively decide the conditions of approval.
The strike comes after weeks of protests and demonstrations by graduate student workers across the University of California advocating for wage increases adjusted to the cost of living.
UC Santa Cruz graduate students first went on strike in December, refusing to release undergraduate fall grades. The strikes continued Feb. 10 as some teaching assistants still withheld grades. At least 17 students were arrested during protests, and UC Santa Cruz fired 54 graduate student employees who still had not turned in grades Feb. 28.
Around 30 more students said they were told they would not be eligible for spring quarter teaching positions after participating in the protests, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hundreds gathered at Janss Steps at noon before the vote, including professors, lecturers and students. No graduate students voted against the strike and seven voted to abstain, a rally organizer announced. Many more did not participate in the vote.
“There’s always a chance that these things fail,” Kanjilal said. “But I think we’ve already brought more attention to this than ever before.”