Opportunities for dialogue

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Interim Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer

On January 27, Chancellor Larive announced two new programs to support our graduate students. Despite these efforts, we were disappointed that some of our TAs—200 of whom continue to withhold grades—last week threatened to escalate their activity to a full teaching strike. The threatened action violates the collective bargaining agreement that the University of California has with the TA’s union, the UAW. The collective bargaining agreement memorializes the rights of employees (here, the TAs and GSIs) and employers (here, the University of California). One of the central benefits bargained for by the University is the right to be free of any strikes during the term of the agreement. We expect our TAs who are union members to abide by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.  

Nonetheless, in an effort to open up dialogue, we had two important meetings with graduate students this week. The first was a meeting at the UC system level between representatives from the Office of the President and the UAW Executive team who represent students across all campuses. That took place in Irvine on Wednesday. The second meeting occurred yesterday. I, along with Director of Employee & Labor Relations Jennifer Schiffner, joined the Acting Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Quentin Williams, and Graduate Student Association (GSA) co-presidents Yulia Gilichinskaya and Antony Boardman.

At the second meeting, we discussed collaborating towards building better support for all PhD and MFA students, not just union members. As part of this effort and to ensure productive conversation, we shared our willingness to pause employee disciplinary and student conduct processes for one week if graduate students paused all strike activities. These meetings are a positive step toward coming together as a community to face our shared challenges.

We certainly hope that these meetings mark the start of a new dynamic with our graduate students and a renewed sense of cooperation. Our graduate students play an important role in the educational mission of UCSC and we understand and empathize with the financial burden that results from the current housing crisis for many on our campus. It is only by working together that we can find solutions as a community.

However, if students decide to proceed with the threatened strike escalation they will violate the collective bargaining agreement that UC has with the UAW. In fact, the UAW notified the Academic Student Employees (ASEs) directly today that such strike activity is unauthorized and violates the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. As articulated in the agreement, participation in the strike will lead to consequences up to and including dismissal from employment.

This has been a challenging time for our community, especially our undergraduate students. I am hopeful we will find a path toward resolution and look forward to the opportunity to dialogue.


Lori Kletzer
Interim Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor