Twenty picketers were arrested Wednesday morning for blocking traffic at UC Santa Cruz as unionized teaching assistants and tutors began a strike at two UC campuses.
The arrests came around 8 a.m. as the picketers, mainly graduate students, tried to block auto entrances into the Santa Cruz campus, according to university spokesman Jim Burns. The 20 — cited on charges such as failing to disperse and being a pedestrian in a roadway — were taken to the Santa Cruz County jail and were expected to be released soon. One of the 20 also faces a charge of resisting arrest, Burns said.
Student academic workers walked off the job at Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley on Wednesday. Union officials said the strike would extend to all nine UC undergraduate campuses on Thursday.
The United Auto Workers Local 2865 — which represents about 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors and readers — called the strike to protest what it called unfair labor practices and intimidation by UC administrators. Among other issues, the union contends that growing class sizes and workloads are making it difficult to offer quality teaching and tutoring.
The union and UC have been negotiating a new contract since the summer.
The impact Wednesday on academic life was uneven.
Some professors canceled classes and some teaching assistants rescheduled their sections for later dates.
“There are some classes happening but it is kind of like a ghost town,” said Jeb Purucker, a literature department graduate student and teaching assistant at Santa Cruz.
Burns said he did not know yet what percentage of classes and sections were proceeding at their normal schedule, but that most Santa Cruz offices and services were operating, although some at reduced levels.
No arrests were reported at UC Berkeley, which despite the strike seemed to be operating as usual. But there were “pockets” of classes canceled or rescheduled, according to campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore.