On January 6, over 600 UCLA skilled trades workers went on strike to protest unfair labor practices committed by the University of California (UC). Teamsters Local 2010, the union that represents the UCLA skilled trades and administrative workers, demanded the university administration stop endlessly delaying negotiations and finally raise workers’ wages – which haven’t seen increases or been adjusted for inflation for more than four consecutive years.  

Despite a recent study that revealed the effects of the UC’s poverty wages for 70% of workers, the University has continued to abuse its skilled trades workers by paying them below $10 an hour! Instead of using existing funds to raise workers out of poverty, the University of California has spent an enormous amount of money on legal services to request an injunction to prevent a strike; which the State of California rejected.

Demanding accountability for the University’s continual lack of good faith bargaining, Local 2010 advised the public to avoid the UCLA campus and medical facilities to show support for the striking workers. The action began one day prior to student move-in day; causing reported electricity, plumbing, and heating complications in dorms, campus facilities, and Pauley Pavilion during the men’s basketball game on January 8.  

On January 10, UC administrative, clerical, and support workers from all ten campuses coordinated a legal statewide sympathy strike to express their solidarity with Local 2010’s striking skilled trades workers at UCLA. Around noon, several hundred UCLA workers marched from the medical center down to the intersection of Wilshire Blvd and Westwood Blvd (one of the busiest intersections in the State of California), and shut it down for thirty minutes. Socialist Students was in attendance and marched proudly in solidarity with the Teamsters.

The five-day strike which ended on Jan 10, landed three months after the completion of UCLA’s $162 million Luskin Conference Center (an upscale facility on campus used for private events), and also at the time of construction of the $10 million “Mo Ostin” basketball practice facility. The UC is one of the wealthiest education systems in the world, and yet continues to underpay its workers and hike up students’ tuition. The prioritization of multi-million dollar sports and business programs over paying living wages and lowering tuition demonstrates the UC’s failure to operate on behalf of worker and student needs.

As of January 11, the UC has maintained its refusal to negotiate, and Local 2010 plans to keep the pressure on with upcoming actions until a fair contract is reached.

“An Injury to One is an Injury to All”

Students and workers need to come together to resist UC abuse and demand a re-prioritization of funds that places workers’ and students’ needs before business interests. A united struggle involving Local 2010, other unions and students, demanding an end to austerity measures that target workers’ paychecks and burden students with high tuition can strike a blow against UC greed and begin building the kind of collective struggle necessary to advance student and worker power.  

If UC workers and students can win concessions that defend their interests against one of the richest university systems in the world, then there is no doubt that their collective struggle can help build the confidence of worker and student movements and fuel the budding resistance against the coming attacks from the right wing Trump administration.