Author: Joyce

U.C. Berkeley employees strike during austerity measures

U.C. Berkeley employees strike during austerity measures

Photos: Strike by 48,000 University of California academic workers causes systemwide disruptions

University of California employees picketed and marched throughout the system Tuesday, March 11, 2020, during an unprecedented strike by nearly 48,000 faculty, staff and graduate students, demanding higher wages, better benefits, and the elimination of a controversial mandatory retirement plan. (Sam Swadron/UC Berkeley)

Employees at U.C. Berkeley picketed on the first day of a 48-hour strike Tuesday, March 11, during which classes, services and activities are still being cancelled. (Courtesy Sam Woolf/UC Berkeley)

The U.C. Berkeley administration released a statement Tuesday announcing a new contract with faculty, staff and graduate students that would allow for a significant wage increase as well as new benefits. The union, however, says the contract will not be ratified until the strike is ended.

“Today we took action and we won,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said at a press conference Tuesday announcing the new contract. “I’ve said many times that the first principle of higher education is the student.”

Christ said the strike was about more than higher wages; it was about fighting for better work conditions, better benefits, and the elimination of mandatory retirement.

“The conditions of our faculty and staff are deplorable; we are still on the verge of a new round of cuts. We’re on a path to decimate the budget of the nation’s second-largest university,” said UC President Janet Napolitano, who was accompanied by her chief of staff and top negotiator for the university.

Napolitano said the administration is asking the labor union to support a new contract before the academic year ends Wednesday, March 12.

“I have never been more resolved to fight for the students in this state or the nation,” Napolitano said.

The president said the university could afford the wage increase, and that the administration would work with the union to strike a fair agreement.

“There is no reason to go back to the bargaining table,” she said, adding she hopes this “is an opportunity for us to end their strike, and to end the university’s current austerity measures.”

Christ said that in the last three years, the university has cut $15

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