We reported on the University of California system’s United Student-Workers Union organized strike, featuring news from the Santa Cruz and San Diego institutions.

Now, UCLA student Josh Hedtke files this report from his school:

The strikers, totaling in the hundreds, gathered in front of Powell Library on Thursday morning and proceeded to march around campus throughout the day, playing music, banging on drums, and shouting in unison.

…When I first got there I was surprised at the strikers’ collective chutzpa. Many an exuberant face stomped by me vigorously brandishing the UAW demand sign. Notorious B.I.G. bumped in the background as one of the leaders kept calling for his strikers not to back down in their incessant inveighing.

Many protestors wore shirts with the UAW slogan, “educate, agitate, organize,” and logo, a muscular fist clenching a pencil (a literate iron fist, if you will).

The UAW has a specific list of demands that it presented to the UCLA and larger UC administrations and whoever was willing to listen.

The standard UAW sign many were wielding demanded:

·      Equal access for all undocumented workers
·      All-gender bathrooms
·      Disability justice
·      Support for student families
·      Living wages and smaller class sizes

The apparent disjunction in and somewhat desultory nature of these demands notwithstanding, the majority of strikers, being graduate students and teaching assistants, were primarily concerned with large undergraduate class sizes and low pay.

One sign posted on the wall related the challenging situation one teaching assistant had found himself in: “I had a class of 93 students and had to grade 650 short essays with 7 questions each for the final.”

Another sign lamented the fact that grad students would eventually have to pay back their loans: “Government will garnish your wages if you don’t pay your student loans.”

One sign seemed to key in on the fact that the supply of PhDs in majors like sociology and history far outstrips the number of jobs that demand such training: “Because you pay a professional fee with no promise of a profession.”

Finally, a flyer “protested” the dizzying rate at which tuition has climbed over the last twenty years: from $2,761 in 1994 to $11,220 in 2014.