Letters to the Editor: How UC has exploited the student academic workers on strike

 Demonstrators picket at UCLA as nearly 48,000 University of California academic workers go on strike on Nov. 14.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I am not the kind of person who writes responses to newspaper articles. But the University of California provost’s recent letter about the contract talks with academic employees who are now on strike leaves me no choice but to respond, even if I risk professional repercussions for speaking out.

I am a graduate student researcher at UC Santa Barbara. On paper, I am supposed to work 20 hours per week, but that does not reflect reality.

Indeed, graduate student researchers who have completed all required coursework must enroll in a class called “directed research.” In this class, we do all the work of a graduate student researcher, but it’s considered a class. Thus, UC gets more hours of the same work I do in my part-time job.


This is how UC can claim to offer great hourly compensation while effectively exploiting workers. Both graduate student researchers and teaching assistants do work for a university that profits from said research in prestige, awards and grants.

You cannot have a clearer case of exploitation of labor when someone works 20 hours a week for free for their employer. This is why I support the strike by UC student workers.

Finally, I feel I must strongly emphasize that the opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer. I do not want to alienate my coworkers or the professors of the UC system who are more than supportive in this struggle for fair wages, but I cannot remain silent.

Enrique Morell, Santa Barbara