*** To be fully transparent: all donated funds are distributed to the collective for food, action accessibility and supplies, and potential legal fees and docked pay. ***
Rent goes up every year, and our wages don't keep pace with basic inflation. The University of California has failed to fulfill its social obligations; most graduate student workers are barely getting by. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), any person that spends more than 30% of their gross monthly income on housing expenses is rent burdened. As we all know, a vast majority of us are well beyond this threshold. Berkeley is inhospitable for many workers, including graduate student workers. The situation is long past tenable.
Squeezed between rising rents and stagnating wages, graduate students at UC Santa Cruz are engaging in a daring wildcat strike. UC Santa Cruz graduate and undergraduate workers are taking a stand against an unjust system that erodes the foundations of public education. On Monday, March 9, UC Berkeley graduate students voted to begin a full teaching strike on Monday, March 16, in solidarity with our colleagues at UC Santa Cruz, who are facing retaliation for withholding labor in pursuit of access to housing, food, and security for all UC graduate students.
We demand that the University of California Administration grant all graduate students across the UC system a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) proportionate to their local housing market. We demand that this occur without raising tuition and fees on undergraduates, without laying off workers, without slashing graduate admissions, and without any retaliation against students. We demand that the University stop behaving as a for-profit landlord - charging above market rates for university housing. We demand that the UC demilitarize their police force. We do not accept that the UC system "does not have the money", not when we read a report by the California State Auditor declaring that the UC Office of the President “...has amassed substantial reserve funds, used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits, and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on systemwide initiatives.”
The UC has always found ways to fund programming it deems important in the past. If teaching is truly at the core of the UC's mission, it is high time that they start paying graduate students - who do the vast majority of teaching within the UC system - a living wage.
The wildcat strikers of UC Berkeley recognize that students and workers consistently have their access needs marginalized or neglected. An equitable education system is an accessible one. Barriers to education and participation must be identified and removed. We are thus allocating a portion of our funds to covering accessibility and equity costs associated with the movement, including but not limited to:
Reliable telecommunications for full participation, regardless of disability or resources, particularly in light of the Covid-19 outbreak
Lend your support to striking grad students as we continue to organize on Berkeley’s campus for better conditions for educators, students, and workers everywhere!
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