United Campus Workers of Virginia expresses its solidarity with the almost 50,000 University of California academic workers who are striking at ten UC campuses to demand better pay, including cost of living adjustments, better working conditions, and better benefits, including reimbursements for childcare. We do so as academic workers who share the same goals as our brothers and sisters in California.
The striking workers include graduate student researchers and instructors, trainees, fellows, and other academic workers. Without their essential labor, the University of California system could not achieve its research, educational, and service mission.
Like all citizens, these public employees are struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising costs. Like adjunct instructors and food service, building maintenance, and sanitation workers at Virginia’s public universities, many of the UC employees on strike make at or below poverty-level wages and often with no healthcare benefits.
The striking UC workers expose what is well-known by all of us who work in higher education: namely, far too little has been invested in the faculty who teach and staff who serve our students. The failure to invest in and support faculty and staff is, in other words, a failure to support our students. And what is true in the UC system is true across the nation, including in Virginia, where many faculty and staff members are underpaid, lack benefits, and find themselves in precarious employment positions.
This is a structural crisis generated by a politics which has sought to reduce public funding for public education. The result is always increasing tuition costs and debt burdens for our students and fewer resources in the form of sufficient faculty and staff to ensure students receive the best education possible. Instead, a large portion of debt-financed tuition goes to fund non-teaching, non-research related initiatives and an always expanding number of extraordinarily well compensated upper administrators.
What is needed is a reorganization of higher education that affirms it as a fundamental public good, vital to the wellbeing and strength of our communities and democracy, and that invests seriously to support faculty and staff with wages and benefits that respect the essential contributions they make to advancing our educational mission.
UCW is building the power needed to achieve the interrelated goals of making higher education affordable, improving the working conditions and compensation of faculty and staff, and providing our students with the empowering education they deserve.
In solidarity with academic workers everywhere,
United Campus Workers – Virginia, Communications Workers of America Local 2265