Q: How was the decision to hold a strike authorization vote made?
Members of our union, the UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865), which represents over 13,000 frontline educators at the University of California, will be voting to authorize the elected leadership of our union to call a strike should circumstances merit, with voting taking place at every UC campus by November 6th. The decision to hold a strike authorization vote was made by a packed assembly of union officers and rank-and-file members at a statewide meeting of the union held October 19th on the UC Davis campus.
The officers and rank-and-file members of the UC Student-Workers union who gathered recently in Davis encourage all members of the union to participate in the upcoming vote and to vote ‘yes’ to authorize our elected leadership of the union to call a strike if circumstances merit.
Q: What is a strike authorization vote?
A: A strike authorization vote is a vote open to graduate students and undergraduate tutors to authorize the elected leadership of the union to call a strike if circumstances merit. It’s not a vote or a pledge to go on strike; rather, the strike authorization vote demonstrates a will to act collectively to protect our rights.
Q: What are some possible reasons for a strike?
A: Striking over the content of bargaining is only legally permissible after the two parties in bargaining have reached an impasse and have had a third party mediator to help resolve differences and received a state fact finder’s report.
Q: How long is a strike and what kinds of strikes are legal?
Our contract has been extended until Nov. 5th. Our contract may expire after that date. This expiration means that our “no-strike clause”, which generally bars strike actions, is no longer in effect. In general, when not barred by a no-strike clause, there are a number of legally protected types of workplace actions. These workplace actions can range in scale, duration and tactic — from hour-long work stoppages in a particular department to a multi-day system-wide shutdown. The kinds of strikes that are possible under proper circumstances include:
*Sympathy strike: Generally a strike in solidarity with another group of striking workers. The idea of the sympathy strike is to not cross another group of workers’ picket lines. The principle of not crossing picket lines is a principle that built the labor movement; holding to this principle helps enable workers to protect their and others’ rights, and to challenge damaging working conditions that are, in some way, endured together.
*Grievance strike: A strike in solidarity with a member or members in our union who have had their rights violated, and who are grieving these violations. It is possible to call a grievance strike to contest grievable working conditions or violations endured by our fellow student workers.
*Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike: If an employer commits an unfair labor practice, which is prohibited by California’s Higher Education Employment Relations Act (HEERA), the union can strike to protest the unfair labor practice. Unfair Labor Practices include refusing to provide the union with necessary information and intimidating members.
Q: Can I be fired or disciplined for participating in a strike?
A: No. The California Supreme Court has ruled that public employee strikes, including those by UC employees, are legal, and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) protects our right to strike under the conditions we’ve described. If your employer threatens you, warns or intimidates you about striking, or disciplines or you for striking, contact a union officer immediately, as this is an Unfair Labor Practice.
Q: What can I do about my class/section on a strike day?
A: In the event of a strike, the union would clarify the possibilities that student workers have in order to participate in the strike, to participate in collective actions, and/or to address academic and other commitments.
Q: Will I lose pay if I participate in a strike?
A: For a one-day strike you would likely not lose pay. However, for longer strikes there is a strike fund held by the International Union that is used to pay members during extended strikes.
Q: Why consider striking?
A: Striking is about showing collective power and collective concern and the willingness to act in concert about our rights and the things we care about.