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Statement of Solidarity: COLA Wildcat Strikes

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) Delegates’ Council and Executive Committee stand in solidarity with the striking graduate student workers of UC Santa Cruz (UAW 2865) and the Santa Cruz GSA, as well as all other striking graduate workers across the University of California system. Since December 8, 2019, members of the UCSC Graduate Student Association (UGSA) and the Santa Cruz unit of UAW 2865 have led a wildcat strike to withhold final grades over a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) to alleviate the enormous rent burden caused by skyrocketing rental prices in Santa Cruz.

Graduate student workers are demanding $1,412 for every graduate student, regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment or funding status, to bring them out of rent burden, without raising tuition or campus fees. The demand for COLA has spread to parallel movements across all 10 universities in the UC system.

The UCSC and University of California (UC) administrations have repeatedly refused and failed to negotiate in good faith with the union, resulting in charges of Unfair Labor Practices. The institution has turned the police force against striking workers, leading to violence and 17 arrests by riot police. This escalation has also led to the unjust termination of at least 82 graduate student workers at UCSC in retaliation for strike-related activities. The conditions of their reinstatement includes an unrealistic deadline for completing work and a requirement to abstain from strike activities, terms that have been rejected. This mass termination has left already-precarious workers without health care during a global pandemic.

The AGSEM Delegates’ Council and Executive Committee released a statement of solidarity with striking workers in January 2020. Through the Mutual Aid Committee, the Delegates' Council has authorized a $1000 donation to the UCSC graduate student workers' strike fund. It was said before, but it bears repeating: the wildcat strikes across California are a forceful and courageous action in light of the entire University of California system’s hostility towards its graduate student employees. We look to you for inspiration for our own labour struggles, and stand with you in your fight.

In solidarity,

The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) Delegates’ Council and Executive Committee


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