UCSC teaching assistant strike: Revolt of the academic subalterns

Protests are escalating against the systematic exploitation of teaching assistants by academic institutions in the US.

By Tamoghna Halder |Mar 25, 2020

On February 28, the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) fired 82 teaching assistants for demanding higher pay to afford the area’s high cost of living.

In December, after months of back and forth with the university administration, about 200 teaching assistants went on a “wildcat” strike – a strike not officially supported by their union – and announced that they would withhold the fall quarter grades of undergraduate students until a living cost adjustment of $1,412 was made to their wages.

In response, the university extended the deadline to submit the grades and encouraged the workers to end their strike immediately. When the workers refused to budge, it proposed a need-based housing allowance worth $2,500 per year, which translates to a meagre $200 increase in monthly wages. When the workers also refused this offer, the university unilaterally terminated the contracts of 54 teaching assistants who had already received spring appointments and told 28 others that they will no longer be considered for contract renewal.

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