The History Department Chair’s Advisory Committee strongly supports our graduate students during the UAW’s ongoing contract negotiations with the University of California. As we near the end of the fall semester, we also want to make clear that we support department faculty who have been teaching fall courses with Academic Student Employees and who are declining to pick up graduate students’ struck labor, including faculty who for the duration of the strike choose to submit final grades this fall for only those students identified by the campus as vulnerable. We see this choice as consistent with communications from the Academic Senate and the Dean of Social Sciences and the campus decision to provide lists of vulnerable students to instructors.
We recognize that graduate student workers have a legally protected right to strike, and we are restating the department’s pledge not to retaliate against any graduate student for their participation (or non-participation) in the strike action. Substantively, the cost of living in or near Berkeley has increased dramatically, and too many History graduate students are now severely rent burdened. They are unable, as a result, to carry out their work for the department or their own research on a stable financial footing. This financial precarity generates significant stress, which gets in the way of essential teaching and learning. The status quo is untenable, and the effects are especially harmful for first-generation students, student parents, and students from historically and presently marginalized communities. All graduate student workers should be paid a livable wage for their work; they should be afforded essential workplace protections; and they should never be subjected to unfair or illegal labor practices. Graduate students are essential to our community and key partners in making the department what it is, and we are proud to support them during the strike action.
The Chair’s Advisory Committee (Fall 2022)
Cathryn Carson, Chair
Carlos Noreña, Vice Chair for Graduate Affairs
Abhishek Kaicker, Vice Chair for Personnel
Christine Philliou, Vice Chair for Curriculum