For three days, UC students have watched a strike not by their own peers but the UC employees that make their campus feel like home. After a recent study displayed the UC system's income inequality, AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California's largest employee union, received a 97% member approved for this strike. Various statistics, such as the bottom 50% of employees accounting for only 22% of total payroll costs while the top percent represented 31% of total payroll, resulted in 50,000 UC service workers to participate statewide. To many college students this strike is inconvenient or surprising, however, this labor strike is significant not for these workers but also to all college students:
When people refer to college community, many refer to students and professors. But the college campuses involve variety of sectors such as health professionals who are there to help us with our injuries or the janitors who make sure our facilities are clean in dorms. Usually, we appreciate the professors who spend their time teaching us but forget about the people who help make campus feel like our home. Though these workers help make our days better, many face financial obstacles due to these low wages and have to work multiple jobs. This strike reshapes the narrative to college student community and have more respect as well as appreciation for all campus employees.
Lost of Resources
When many come to college, students assume professors will be grading our exams or handing back our assignments. But soon you realizes graduate students or TAs are your guides through course material grading your work or providing extra lecture notes during section. Hearing about the income wage gap has inspired many graduate students to go on strike as well, leading some to cancel office hours or even assignments. Further, the UC strike illustrates a united, supportive community, making it vital for students to be aware of unfair school policies does not affect just one part of the employed campus community but every component.
These service workers express their voices that made people inside and outside the community reconsider the UC system as a whole, illustrating the economic inequality in public institutions. In fact their efforts caught the attention of Senator Kamala Harris, who is now boycotting her UC Berkeley Commencement Speech, forcing UC Berkeley's chancellor to take her place. These employees and other protests who contributed to this 3 day strike have demonstrate protests can provide visibility and have an impact on local as well as national level.
To college students, this 3-day strike initiated by the UC system employees through the AFSCME Local 3299 union serves as an example of injustices and inequality around us. As members and funders of the UC system, we should aim to cultivate a respectable, equal space for every student and employee. More importantly, students should not only be inspired by the knowledge taught by faculty members but also the other campus workers who make a UC campus their second home.