Emancipatory Sciences Lab Supports UC Academic Workers Negotiations

We are writing as scholars who have made the University of California a home, and as people with a vested interest in its future and mission to educate and train tomorrow’s leaders. Cutting edge research, insightful teaching, and career development is and always should be the primary focus of the university.

With that in mind, we are dismayed at the situation unfolding in contract negotiations with Academic Student Employees, Student Researchers, Postdocs, and Academic Researchers, who are the backbone of the University of California. Their labor is inextricably linked with the creativity and present and future advancements of UCSF and the University of California system as the premier public education system, without parallel, in the world. The University’s regrettable conduct is stymying the resolution of contract negotiations and preventing these academic workers from focusing on the research, teaching, leadership, and public service they are here to do. Our society requires innovation and change agents in accord with UC values of diversity, equity, and inclusion; yet, these essential workers are invisible, underpaid, and exploited. 

We have witnessed academic workers struggle with the high cost of rent, long commutes to work, lack of job security, and lack of support for working parents and international workers. The immeasurable time spent looking for apartments or figuring out how to make ends meet could be spent usefully on research and teaching. These workers deserve compensation that matches their vital contributions. We fear that without increasing compensation and benefits, UC will not be able to continue to compete with other universities for a diverse workforce of top scholars. And most immediately, we are concerned that the University’s regrettable behavior at the bargaining table threatens to deeply disrupt our colleagues and our ability to continue our shared mission. We recognize, along with many of our colleagues, that to allow this to continue is simply unacceptable. 

The UC is a public serving institution as mandated by the California legislature and executed by the Board of Regents and UC Provost, Chancellors, and administration. We implore the Office of the President to commit to bargain in good faith so the parties can reach agreement as quickly as possible so that we all can move forward and refocus on what makes the University great. 

For more: Information about UC-UAW negotiations and a UAW strike & UAW Academic Workers or search the hashtag #FairUCNow

Jarmin Yeh is a Co-Director of the Emancipatory Sciences Lab and an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences at UCSF.

Jennifer James is a Co-Director of the Emancipatory Sciences Lab and an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences at UCSF.

Carroll L. Estes is the Founder of the Emancipatory Sciences Lab, Founder of the Institute of Health & Aging, and Professor Emerita and Past-Chair of the Department of Social & Behavioral Science at UCSF.