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The California academic strike is the most important in US higher education history | Nelson Lichtenstein

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The University of California is trying to divide and conquer the 48,000 workers on strike by acceding to the demands of some groups but not others

The strike by unions representing 48,000 academic workers at the University of California stands at a perilous crossroads. It is by far the largest and most important strike in the history of American higher education, with the potential to transform both the status and income of those who work in an “industry” that now employs more workers than the federal government.

Despite all the disruption, the strike has generated virtually no opposition from either the faculty or from most undergraduates. Indeed, student leaders at all nine University of California campuses have endorsed the demand by their graduate student teaching assistants and other academic workers for a substantial wage increase designed to offset the soaring cost of California housing as well as the larger inflationary riptide that has eroded even the paltry salaries, grants and fellowships upon which so many of them rely.

Nelson Lichtenstein is research professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

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