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In the UC Santa Cruz Wildcat Strike, Class War Meets the California Housing Crisis

Mairav Zonszein February 21, 2020

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Sarah Mason, a graduate student in sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, tells a crowd of several hundred students, wrapping up the fourth day of an unprecedented wildcat strike that has drawn threats of mass dismissal and captured the attention of UC campuses across the state. Using a megaphone, Mason reminds them that LA teachers went on strike for six days last year and Oakland teachers for seven before getting their pay raises. She asks for a show of hands to see how many wanted to continue to picket the following day. Arms shoot up all around her.

Graduate student employees have been on a work stoppage since February 10, refusing to teach, hold office hours, or do other work until the university meets their demands for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of $1,412 a month to help alleviate the rent burden in Santa Cruz, one of the least affordable housing markets in the country. This was an escalation from a grade strike that over 200 graduate students launched on December 9.

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