Week three of the UAW strike came to a head with sit-ins at California Hall, when 150 academic workers occupied the building from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.
The picketers sat outside of Chancellor Carol Christ’s office in protest while a small police presence stayed inside California Hall overnight, blocking the doors to everyone attempting to enter the building. The protestors equipped themselves with sleeping bags and other gear to last the night, according to graduate student Roshanak Gonzalez, who spent the night inside California Hall.
Strikers sitting in a window west of California Hall said they developed ways for obtaining food and supplies.
“We know we’re putting our asses on the line by being here,” the strikers said, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
When the occupation ended, picketers outside joined a group of protestors leaving Christ’s home for a rally at noon outside of California Hall, according to Gonzalez.
The UC bargaining team sent the union its first serious proposal late Friday night following the sit-in, according to Gonzalez. She said in an email that the wages offered show “substantial progress” from the last proposal.
However, Jonathan Mackris, a picket lead captain, said the offer is still “extremely inadequate.”
Around 3 p.m., one group of protestors began occupying the southern region of Wheeler Hall. Alex Filippenko, campus professor in the department of astronomy, was holding a lecture for his Astronomy C10 course at the time and briefly paused the class as a result of the disruption.
“I felt disrespected; they were very loud and disruptive,” Filippenko said in an email. “I said that I respect their right to strike, but they should respect my right to conduct my lecture without being disrupted.”
Disruptions also take the form of grading, which Mackris noted shows how “irreplaceable” academic workers are. Mingxiao Wei, an undergraduate student instructor for Computer Science 61A, noted that 60 to 70 workers are usually available on staff to grade assignments, but only 10 to 15 are working. She said she had “no idea” how long it will take to grade exams.
Wei considered going back to work like some of her colleagues out of concern for her students, but she’s still on strike out of solidarity.
Graduate student instructors are often asked to proctor exams, and as many as 25,000 assignments could go ungraded, according to UC systemwide poll data compiled by the UC Faculty Association as of Dec. 2.
“I think the point of the disruptions is not just performative,” Mackris said. “It’s not just for the sake of doing it. I think it’s to constantly put pressure on the university and to demonstrate how important we are and how necessary we are to the quality of education that undergraduates receive.”