Sympathy Strike FAQ Sheet

Today, members, students, and organizers from AFSCME 3299 came out for our campus-wide town hall. Here is a list of frequently asked questions we’ve compiled. Contact us at if you have any questions or concerns, and please continue to follow our blog for updates and more information.


Q: What is a sympathy strike? Why should we strike?

A sympathy strike is a strike in solidarity with another group of striking workers. The idea of a sympathy strike is not to cross another group of workers’ picket lines, and to challenge damaging working conditions that are, in some way, endured together.

We are joining AFSCME 3299 in a sympathy strike on Wednesday. AFSCME’s strike is a response to UC management’s intimidation and coercion of workers stemming from their previous two-day strike in May. Over the years, AFSCME has shown solidarity with students and workers across the UC. They’ve played a significant role in our fight against tuition hikes and privatization, and supported us in our campaigns for fair and safe working conditions. Like us, they suffer the effects of budget cuts and the privatization of our university. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with their struggle under our shared management.

Wednesday’s strike will be the largest strike in UC’s history. It represents a critical moment of solidarity in our struggles as students and workers at the UC. TAs, readers, and tutors should withhold all work for the day and join us on the picket lines from 12pm to 2pm at the flagpoles.

Q: What can I do about my class/section on a strike day?

A strike is most effective if we all participate and honor the strike.  This means we are hoping TA’s, tutors, and readers refrain from all work duties that day. That includes: teaching sections; holding office hours; grading papers; and in general, anything related to your duties as an academic worker.

Q: Can I be fired or disciplined for participating in a strike?

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’s up with this email we received from Graduate Division asking whether we will be working on Wednesday?

We believe this form of polling could be illegal. The polling of possible strikers is permitted by labor law only in situations where it puts patients in “imminent danger,” such as in the case for hospital workers. You do not have to respond to this email, and even if you did respond to this email that you intend to work, you have the right to not show up for work if you later decide to join your fellow Academic Student Employees on strike. We’re encouraging workers not to respond, and to help alleviate any confusion or fear by talking to their colleagues about this.

Q: Can management dock my pay for participating in the strike?

Yes. Legally, management can decide to dock our pay for work you miss on November 20th. However, if you’re not scheduled to work on the 20th, you should not have your pay docked.

Q: Do I have an obligation to inform my department that I am striking?

No, and in fact, polling of nonessential personnel as to their plan for strike participation is likely illegal.

However, we are encouraging TAs to let their students know what is going on and to encourage them to show solidarity by coming to the picket lines on Wednesday. Similarly, we’re asking students to keep their departments informed and encourage professors not to discipline students for missing class or seminar on Wednesday. We have several template letters to send out to faculty, colleagues, and students that you may use to inform them of the strike and why it’s important to show solidarity with our workers.

Q: I’m not working this quarter. What can I do to support the strike?

Join us on the line for a mass rally and picket from 12pm to 2pm at the flagpoles on Wednesdays, and come join the pickets throughout the day.