With the graduate student and academic worker strike well underway, many undergraduates have wondered what their role is in the strike, how to show solidarity and whether or not to attend classes.
According to Kenzo Esquivel, a picket captain and head steward of the UAW 2865 union chapter, the union has a positive rapport with undergraduate students.
“At least at our picket line, we have had a lot of really fun undergrads come out and support us,” Esquivel said. “It’s been really fun to see graduate student instructors have their classes come down and meet them down here. Obviously, we are not able to demand that any class do that, but (we are) just inviting them to learn more about what’s going on.”
When it comes to undergraduates who are interested in supporting the strike, if classes are taught by a tenure-track professor, students should go with a group of friends and ask them to cancel class, according to Esquivel. If instructors are lecturers, they cannot cancel class due to a strike clause in their contract, but undergraduates can ask the instructor to teach over Zoom or bring conversations about the strike into class.
According to a joint press release from UAW 2865, UAW 5810, Student Researchers United-UAW and the California Labor Federation, undergraduates do not need to boycott their classes. Undergraduates can participate through joining workers on the picket line and contributing to the hardship fund.
“I agree with the strikers. You know, obviously the GSIs do deserve a raise because they do a lot of the work and I feel like the university itself disperses the money in not the right ways, personally,” said Kiara Sandoval, a campus freshman majoring in civil engineering. “If it goes on too much, I feel like it does disrupt the education of the students because we are still paying for this.”
Michael Loera, another campus freshman majoring in civil engineering, said he supports the strike and joined his R1A class on the picket line.
Some students on social media have alleged that picketers near Berkeley Law have been harassing undergraduates that are “crossing the picket line” and going to class.
In response to this, Esquivel said he had not heard of that situation specifically and added that the union tries to lead respectfully.
“We try to manage the picket lines as respectfully as we can,” Esquivel said. “As a union, our stance has been that we hold our views, and we are respectful of people who have opposing views.”
Gabriel McAdams, a Chem 1A study group facilitator at the Student Learning Center and UAW member, urged undergraduates to support the strike by joining the picket line, asking instructors to cancel class in solidarity, signing the Undergraduate Letter of Support and attending the Undergraduate Solidarity Rally on Friday at 3 p.m. by the Campanile.