Protesters advocate for better wages, labor practices and benefits for university faculty members. (Illustration by Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress) (Tatyana Ekmekjian)
Protesters advocate for better wages, labor practices and benefits for university faculty members. (Illustration by Tatyana Ekmekjian / Golden Gate Xpress)

Tatyana Ekmekjian

SF State faculty union supports UC-UAW strike

November 16, 2022

On Nov. 14, nearly 48,000 academic workers affiliated with UAW at the 10 campuses of the University of California went on strike, which is scheduled to last the entire week. This strike for a FairUC is organized by workers from three separate units currently engaging in bargaining with the university, UAW 2865 and SRU-UAW, which represents graduate student instructors and researchers respectively, and UAW 5810, which represents postdocs. Together these locals garnered over 36,000 yes votes to strike making this the largest strike in higher education in US history.

The CFA-SFSU chapter, which represents faculty, librarians, coaches and counselors in our university has come out in full support of the strike. Our union has made a donation of $500 to the strike and hardship fund and is organizing delegations of SF State faculty members to join the pickets daily in solidarity. We are also encouraging all union and community members to make individual donations. Other chapters of the CSU are making similar statements and donations as well. 

As union members, we see the struggle of academic workers in the UC as deeply intertwined with ours at SF State and in the CSU. We understand that their open-ended strike for fair bargaining to get a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment Increase). The union is asking for a 10% increase for this year, and a minimum of 7% each year for the next coming years, which is key. So far the UC is only offering 7% this year and 3% for consecutive years. 

SF State faculty and staff are also struggling to make ends meet as we are approaching the end of the second year of rampant inflation (8-9%), while our wages only went up 4% and 3% respectively. And at SF State too, faculty have seen an increase in their workload and larger class sizes. Like in the UC, our university also relies on a two-tier system where the majority of the instructional faculty has a higher teaching load and lower wages than the tenure-track faculty. In the UC, roughly two-thirds of the teaching is carried out by lecturer faculty and graduate students, and in the CSU, the percentage is roughly 45% (40% at SF State). As our colleague, Marc Stein recently argued “colleges and universities have to stop making it seem as though they can forever do more with less.This is why we must also engage in a fight to reverse this trend, drastically increase tenure density and ultimately abolish the two-tier system. 

Recently the president of the university hinted at the possibility of increasing our teaching load (beyond 3/3), an idea which will be met with tremendous and determinate resistance from the union. She also implied that there could be massive layoffs for lecturer faculty, which the union would also resist. This is also why the CFA-SF State union fully supports UC workers, we think their struggle is our struggle and their win will also be ours, as it will strengthen the bargaining power of other unions including ours. 

The strike tactic was resuscitated a few years ago by the teachers in West Virginia, Arizona and Oklahoma and since then has been embraced by many sectors of the labor movement proving each time its effectiveness. In universities too, strikes are the best tool workers have to enforce their rights and win a fair contract when administrators don’t want to listen to workers’ and students’ needs. 

Come join us at the picket line with UC workers, because all workers deserve a COLA and because teachers’ working conditions are also student learning conditions.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Tatyana Ekmekjian
Tatyana Ekmekjian, Staff Photographer
Tatyana Ekmekjian (she/her) is graduating this spring with a major in photojournalism and a minor in hospitality and tourism management at SF State. Tatyana has a great passion for the culture, industry and preparation of food. She hopes to express her passion for food through the medium of photography to further her success in the food and lifestyle industry.

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