Barricades Go Up In Santa Cruz As UC Wide Wildcat Strike Expands Following Firings

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Above Photo: From  Itsgoingdown.org

Starting at around 4:30 AM, barricades went up outside of the entrances to the University of California in Santa Cruz (UCSC), effectively shutting down the campus. Over the next 8 hours, thousands of students, faculty, and staff took part in mass rallies and marches across almost the entire UC system, as more campuses announced that they were also joining the wildcat strike which had begun in Santa Cruz in early February. Since then, according to UCSC strikers on the ground, almost 20 people have been arrested on the picket lines and at least 80 student workers have been fired from their positions as teaching assistants.

The system wide “Blackout” strike on Thursday was an escalation for the growing wildcat strike movement on UC campuses, and shows that there is increasing support for mass collective action to demand a cost of living wage increase (COLA). This activity also comes as the UC system has attempted to frighten student workers off the picket lines by a combination of violent riot police which have injured several strikers, the threat of potential firings, and in the case of international students, potential deportation.

At the time of this writing, two campuses, both UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), are both on full strike, meaning there is both a grading strike (teaching assistants are not turning in final grades) as well as a teaching strike (grad student workers are not teaching classes). While UCSC grad students have been on strike since early February, they have been withholding grades since last year. Joining strikers in Santa Cruz has been grad student workers at UCSB, who launched their strike last Thursday. Meanwhile, at UC Davis, workers there kicked off a grading strike for the Winter 2020 quarter. Starting next Monday, student workers at UC San Diego will also begin a grading strike, as strikes are currently being planned at UC Berkeley and UCLA campuses as well.

From Pay Us More UC:

Strikers and allies across the UC system reject an institution that would dispose of them rather than negotiate; when you fire 10% of your graduate workers, nothing can be normal. But beyond this, strikers are fighting against the cruelty that has become normalized on this campus. The COLA movement was sparked because many hundreds of graduate students and many thousands of undergraduates experience daily precarity, hunger, trauma, homelessness, and marginalization, and because this institution has consistently failed to meet its student’s basic needs. Strikers reject an institution where students skip meals and sleep in cars to make ends meet, and reject an administration that would fire them for not wanting to live that way. Together we fight for ourselves, for our friends, for the future of higher education, and for the university that we need.

What follows is a roundup of actions that took place on different UC campuses across the state of California on Thursday, March 5th.

Berkeley

Massive rally of over 1,000 floods the campus. DSA Communist Caucus reports: “Today, UC Berkeley send a loud and clear message. Pay Graduate Students enough to live in Berkeley. So far, multiple departments have voted that they’re strike ready!”

As KQED wrote:

On Thursday, hundreds of students gathered at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza to rally support for staging a strike of their own, while students at the other UC campuses held picket lines and rallies.

“Cops off campus! COLA in my bank account!” students chanted, referring to cost of living adjustments, as they listened to speeches by UC Berkeley student-workers and visiting students from UC Santa Cruz.

Graduate students at the departments of African American studies, ethnic studies and anthropology have declared themselves strike-ready. Once at least 10 departments across the UC Berkeley campus have signed on as strike-ready, many graduate students say they will meet to determine the next steps.

UC Davis

Hundreds of students marched around the campus in solidarity with fired Santa Cruz workers and to demand COLA.

UC Santa Cruz

In the early morning, barricades at the UC Santa Cruz campus went up at the two entrances into the university, effectively shutting down the campus for hours. Vitalist International wrote on Twitter: “At #UCSCstrike, striking workers, students, and others erected barricades at every entrance of campus around 5am. All classes canceled. #cola4all movement escalated after Janet Napolitano fires…strikers.”

In a statement on Pay Us More UC, Joe Klein wrote:

Today [Thursday, March 5] was another historic day in labor history at UCSC and across the UC system. For the 18th day of the strike, hundreds of graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, staff, lecturers, and others successfully closed down UCSC’s main campus for the entire working day. Two hard picket lines were created just beyond Family Student Housing on the west side, and just beyond Faculty Housing on the east side, to ensure that our colleagues and friends would be able to get easily in and out of their homes, while other traffic easily passed out from campus at both entrances. Students hung a banner from the FSH bridge reading “EAT THE REGENTS” while east picketers were joined by a giant goose puppet (#honkforcola) on the barricade.

All classes were cancelled; instead, students fed each other, held teach-ins, jumped rope, learned new dances, organized their own transportation, and made new friends, while outside of Family Student Housing, families and children came out to play in the streets. Standing together–building power and building community–strikers reminded administration who runs this campus.

UC Santa Barbara

Blockades were erected into the entrance of Cheadle Hall on the campus which then turned into an occupation of the building. A massive march was later organized across the UCSB campus.

According to Daily Nexus:

UCSB 4 COLA took over Cheadle Hall Thursday morning as part of a UC-wide work-stoppage, blocking the doors to the building and refusing to let anyone into the building. After a brief confrontation with administration, graduate students moved inside, occupying every floor of the building.

UCSB 4 COLA – ON STRIKE@ucsb4cola

Join us in Cheadle Hall NOW

Banner reads “Phorever in Debt @ucsb4cola”
See UCSB 4 COLA – ON STRIKE’s other Tweets

UCSB 4 COLA – ON STRIKE@ucsb4cola

What visitors to Cheadle Hall are being welcome with as they enter the building

Banner reads: “Fuck the UC! And a bitch named Janet!”
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Daily Nexus@dailynexus

After talks with police officers and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn, organizers have stopped blocking the doors and have moved inside the building and are chanting “Don’t cross the picket, don’t be a scab” at people entering the building.

Daily Nexus@dailynexus

Graduate students have stationed people on every floor of Cheadle Hall.

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UCSB 4 COLA – ON STRIKE@ucsb4cola

We’ve taken over every floor at Cheadle Hall and blocked the elevators! Don’t cross the picket! SHUT IT DOWN

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UCSB 4 COLA – ON STRIKE@ucsb4cola

Can’t see the beginning or end of the line!

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Megan Newsome@ItsMeganNewsome

another fine day for demanding fair pay

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Daily Nexus@dailynexus

The strikers are now marching to Henley Gate, where they plan to continue the rally.

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Daily Nexus@dailynexus

At Henley Gate, the crowd looks like it’s grown to at least 1000 people.

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UC Irvine

Large march and rally on campus organized in solidarity with arrested strikers and to demand COLA.

chikorita ponytail@tetisheri

Napolitano, escucha. Estamos en la lucha. Student circle outside Langson library.

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David Bañuelas@DavidBanuelas

So excited to hear and see UCI students supporting ✊🏼@uci4cola @payusmoreucsc

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UC Riverside

Mass march and rally on campus organized in support of arrested strikers and to demand COLA.

careen@careenkh

Graduate students at the University of California marching. Chanting “Janet Janet we can’t stand it. Give us we demand it!” @UCRiverside @UCRCNAS @payusmoreucsc

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ItsArchy@gabebecerra

We out here at UCR @ydsaucr representing.

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UC Los Angeles

Mass rally held organized in solidarity with arrested strikers and to demand COLA. Public push made to join larger strike wave. UCLA4COLA reports: “People have canceled sections/office hours/meetings. Others are holding their classes and meetings here. Let’s get UCSC strikers’ jobs back and get everyone a COLA!”

Liz Koslov@LizKoslov

It’s a beautiful day out, but even more beautiful to see colleagues’ and students’ solidarity with ⁦@payusmoreucsc⁩ ⁦@ucla4cola

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UCLA needs a COLA@ucla4cola

We’re out here! People have canceled sections/office hours/meetings. Others are holding their classes and meetings here. Let’s get UCSC strikers’ jobs back and get everyone a COLA! @cola4all @payusmoreucsc @payusmoreucb @ucsb4cola @ucd4cola @uci4cola @ColaUcsd

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Michael D. Anderson@MichaelTheStdnt

solidarity across the UC’s. @payusmoreucsc @ucla4cola UCLA pay your workers. UC runs on graduate labour. You love you see it. The rent is too high. Mobbin strong today!

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UC San Diego

Large rally organized in support of arrested strikers. Grading strike set for coming Monday.

Simeon Man #COLA4ALL@Simeon_Man

UCSD undergrads turned out today to support their TAs and grad workers. Grade strike begins on Monday @ColaUcsd

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UCSD 4 COLA | **ON STRIKE**@ColaUcsd

UCSD COLA HAS APPROVED A GRADING STRIKE STARTING MONDAY.

More info to come!
We’ll continue organizing. We’ll continue fighting. @payusmoreucsc

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UCSD 4 COLA | **ON STRIKE**@ColaUcsd

To President Napolitano, Chancellor Khosla, and Chancellor Larive: the students and workers of UCSD stand with Santa Cruz. We will not stop until we get the COLA we deserve. If you retaliate, we escalate.

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UCSD 4 COLA | **ON STRIKE**@ColaUcsd

UCSD COLA HAS APPROVED A GRADING STRIKE STARTING MONDAY.

More info to come!
We’ll continue organizing. We’ll continue fighting. @payusmoreucsc

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