BERKELEY, Calif. – In a vote on Oct. 26 whose turnout shattered historical U.S. election records, almost 50,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) across the University of California (UC) system authorized a strike for this coming Monday to protest their plight of “going into debt in order to be intellectually exploited and teach snotty undergrads.” The UC released a statement later that day to address what they called “a small gathering of unhappy students” and claims about denying student-workers basic standards of living.
“We pinky promise to give hourly workers a $1.50/hr raise, which accumulates to the average cost of a one bedroom apartment the last time [we] checked,” read the statement from UC Employee and Labor Relations. “We will also address tuition reimbursement bargains by implementing a novel policy in which GSIs will be eligible to retake the classes that they teach for credit or receive one free blow pop from their employment department’s office. We hope this generous compromise will pacify the concerns of the small group of students who have brought this issue to our attention.”
Many students have been disappointed to find that the university really does not give one fuck about them.
“I thought I was going to interact with world-class professors,” says disgruntled EECS grad student and head TA Ajay List. “Come to find out, I’m teaching these classes alone while the professor ghosts the GSIs and stands us up for our meetings—all so he can run his SF cryptocurrency startup he founded as soon as he got tenure. I don’t even make enough to cover half of my rent for a triple in a four-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment.”
The Free Peach reached out to Bill Dinero, Director of ASE Resources, Diversity, and Inclusion, for a comment on UC’s blatantly illegal delays of wage negotiation and currently insufficient wages.
“If a (u)GSI has a concern with his salary, he can certainly email us for alternate accommodations. In the meantime, we hope that the ability to retake a class you’re already teaching (for credit) is a sufficient reimbursement. We are more than willing to hear most students’ concerns as long as they don’t ask us to increase their fundamental rights as laborers. Also, we recognize there have been delays with the Union—we were planning a birthday party for one of the Regents. But we should theoretically be much more reachable now,” Dinero wrote in his email, for which we took the liberty of correcting copious spelling mistakes and sentence fragments. However, he did sign his email with “— BD,” showing that despite denying laborers their basic rights, he’s cool like that.
Bargaining teams argue that academic workers should be offered the same “market-based adjustments” that non-expendable UC employees like Dinero and nine UC chancellors are set to receive, but not everyone agrees.
“They just don’t get the implications. It’s basic Econ — wages go up, then inflation goes up, and the next thing you know, I’m paying a million bucks for my Chipotle burrito bowl just so some GSI can afford to sleep in a bed,” says Haas student and self-denominated “high-value male” John Donahoe III. Unfortunately, Donahoe had to leave to write a class paper on why sweatshops are necessary for the functioning of the S&P 500 before The Free Peach could ask him how paying graduate students liveable wages would undermine the U.S. economy.