The United Campus Workers of Louisiana released a statement stating they stand with the graduate workers at the University of California Santa Cruz striking for better wages.
The UCSC strikers are demanding a cost-of-living adjustment of $1,412 and are currently spending 70% of their monthly income on rent, said the UCWL. The University of California System responded to a strike by sending police to end the protest and firing 82 graduate students.
At LSU, the UCWL is not only supporting the strikers, but also trying to organize its own cost-of-living adjustments. On Monday the UCWL at LSU planted flags in the quad to demonstrate solidarity with the 82 workers who were fired, according Anna McGill, a UCW-LA committee member and a PhD student in English at LSU.
LSU grad students pay an average of $4,883 in fees, LSU health insurance is $2,000 and their stipends range from $10,000 to $24,000, according to Misty Saribal, a UCWL committee member and a University graduate assistant in the communications department. These numbers place the highest paid grad students below the poverty line in Baton Rouge. LSU is responsible for 31,761 student workers, and the estimated out of pocket PhD costs for LSU is over $7,000.
The UCWL is using campaigns such as #fiercefees to try and negate the fees that are required. The Student Excellence fee is being gradually reduced, but the UCWL said the ultimate goal is to eliminate Student Excellence fees and potentially all grad worker fees.
“We do plan to use all the resources we have available to us, and to work together with every student worker to make things better for all of us,” McGill said.
Undergrads also have their own wage problems, and the UCWL is trying to also fight for their increase wages.
“What made the California strike so successful is undergrads came to help them, and the reason they did that is that undergrads’ time is consumed with school and the campus jobs available are a complete disgrace,” Saribal said.
The UCWL also recognizes that some people work for the University for reasons other than financial benefits.
“People think because we go to this prestigious University the jobs will give us a leg up on the future, but actually, spending four years in poverty cannot be argued as good for your economic future,” Saribal said.