University of California students, faculty and staff will be holding strikes and walkouts Thursday at all UC campuses, including Berkeley, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, to protest how the university’s Board of Regents has dealt with reductions in state funding.
The protests are being organized by the University Professional and Technical Employees-Communication Workers of America union Local 9119 and will last throughout the day Thursday as a reaction to “a move to privatize the university and decimate public education,” Tanya Smith, president of the UPTE-CWA Berkeley chapter, said.
In July, the Board of Regents approved a plan to institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes. UC President Mark Yudof also announced this month a plan to further increase student fees by another $2,514 over the next year.
Yudof said at last week’s board meeting at UCSF Mission Bay that “the students ought to be angry. I’m angry about it too.”
However, Yudof blamed the state government, which has cut funding to the UC and California State University systems.
Union employees will be striking, while thousands of faculty and graduate student instructors will simultaneously walking out. Both the strike and the walkout were unanimously endorsed by the University of California Students Association, representing 220,000 UC undergraduates, according to Smith.
The actions will take place at all 10 UC campuses, as well as at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The protests will only be for Thursday, the first day of class on most of the campuses. However, they will likely be used “as a springboard for more things,” Smith said.
The vote on the new fee hike proposal is not expected to take place until November, and Smith said that she thinks there will be more actions before then.
Picket lines are starting as soon as 5:30 a.m. at various construction sites on the UC Berkeley campus. A rally is also planned at noon at Upper Sproul Plaza.
Smith said the board is “using the state budget crisis to create a false or exaggerated crisis here” and that the students and staff are feeling the pain.
“It’s the layoffs, it’s the furloughs, it’s the fee hikes, it’s the lack of transparency, it’s the lack of shared governance,” she said.
A full list of times and places for the picket sites for Thursday’s protests is available at www.upte.org/strikelocations.html.