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Striking UCSC teaching assistants reach partial deal with University

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UC Santa Cruz has reached a settlement with the union that represents a majority of striking UCSC teaching assistants and other academic employees.

The dispute between the University and the union touched off a wildcat strike earlier this year and resulted in the firing of teaching assistants who refused to submit grades until their demands for higher wages was met.

Broad terms of the agreement were released Thursday, July 9th, 2020 by UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive and the Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer.

They include a method for the fired teaching assistants to regain their jobs. It also allows the punishment against 75 graduate students who deleted grade information during fall quarter to be resolved as employment-related misconduct instead of as violations of the Code of Student Conduct.

For its part the UAW union chapter agreed to withdraw its unfair practice charges related to student conduct and employee discipline.

The terms do not address any of the students cost-of-living concerns.

“That’s why this settlement doesn’t mean anything," PhD student Brenda Arjona said. "It's actually just making us jump through more hoops to get back the jobs that weren’t paying us enough to begin with.”

The deal still leaves out 43 graduate students who were formally fired in the spring, and will still have to go through a hearing to learn if they'll get their job back.

Arjona said not getting her teaching position back means she and her 11-year-old son can’t afford to stay in their on-campus housing.

“It would definitely mean within the next month I pack everything up and go back to L.A. and say 'you know what? I got three years into my PhD program and the school kicked me out',” Arjona said.

The University argues this was an illegal strike because the teaching assistants are under contract.

The students still aren’t backing down, and said they’ll still consider an unfair labor strike in the fall if no deal is met.

“People still need a cost-of-living adjustment. People still need better financial support and protection as graduate students. We still can’t afford to live where we work and that’s a problem. That’s how this happened. We’re in a housing crisis,” PhD student and unit chair Veronica Hamilton said.

The University released the following statement regarding the settlement:

"We believe this agreement is a significant first step toward rebuilding trust. Graduate students are valued members of our scholarly community, they make important contributions to our teaching and research missions, and we want to make sure they are supported while they work toward earning a UC Santa Cruz degree. With this agreement in place, we are committed to working with our graduate students to understand their needs and how we can best support them."

Education / Santa Cruz / Top Stories

Ron Keller

Ron Keller is the news director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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