United Auto Workers Union Local 2865 (UAW) is launching a salvo of complaints against the University of California. The unfair and hostile labor practices complaints filed by the UAW on Monday bring the total complaints against the university for such infractions to seven in only six months. The latest volley comes after 22 student protesters were arrested at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California. Following their complaints of intimidation and unfair labor practices falling on deaf ears, teaching assistants set up a strike, protesting UC’s backward practices for two days before riot police arrived to quell the uprising.
Work to Pay Ratio, Intimidation Tactics Are Nothing New
Complaints filed by the UAW and student protests are nothing new for the University of California. Since July, the UAW, which covers student employees as well as professionals in the auto industry, has butted heads with the powers that be at UC in hopes of hammering out fair contracts for union members. These latest complaints are certain to increase tensions between the union and the university.
Meanwhile, student teaching assistants continue to rail against unfair treatment throughout the UC system. On average, teaching assistants make approximately $23,000 per year. Of course, for most students, that money goes directly towards paying their tuition. However, as work loads mount and the work to pay ratio declines, many students feel that they’re being taken advantage of. Couple that with the intimidation tactics UC staff are accused of employing to get more out of their young workers, and it’s no wonder why the UAW is pushing so hard.
UAW Barrage Comes Ahead of White House Labor Reform
UAW’s renewed offensive against the UC system comes as President Obama is pushing for reforms of certain labor standards. More specifically, the POTUS is looking to remove a loophole from United States wage and labor law that allows employers to milk overtime-exempt workers for as much overtime as possible, without paying them a dime. California passed its own Labor Code overtime reform more than a decade ago with the “Eight-Hour-Day Restoration and Workplace Flexibility Act of 1999.” The bill set up a framework outlining when workers would become eligible for overtime pay within a given work day.
Quite clearly, the 1999 bill hasn’t been enough to reform conditions on California’s university campuses, and more likely than not, the same will be said of the President’s push for overtime reform. That being said, is there anyway UC students and UAW will be able to equalize teaching assistant working conditions? Only time will tell.