The Writing Program faculty of UCSB wholeheartedly affirm the rights of graduate students to strike, including our teaching assistants and graduate student researchers.
Graduate students at UCSB are in an almost impossible financial situation. The average salary across the UC for graduate student workers is $24,400. For reference, average rents in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, and Goleta run from $1500 per month in Isla Vista to $3000 in Santa Barbara. At minimum, graduate student workers earning the average UC salary would be paying $18,000 for rent alone (nearly 74% of their gross income would go toward rent). Current pay does not even begin to cover the cost of living in the exorbitantly expensive California Central Coast.
Graduate students are primary instructors for the bulk of Writing 2 classes, which satisfy the Area A1 requirement. Since Writing 2 is the principal GE writing course for first- and second-year students, graduate student labor is vital not only to the Writing Program but UCSB on the whole.
Our program has been founded on effective collective bargaining and union action. We, like our UAW colleagues, have had to battle at the bargaining table, often with our contract lapsed, for gains in salary and job security. As a program composed principally of UC-AFT Unit 18 lecturers, we stand in solidarity with our graduate student unionists and support their demand for living wages and basic job security.
We will support our graduate student colleagues’ lawful strike in all the ways we can, while still honoring the no-strike clause in our union contract. We can and will walk the picket line, provide material support for the strikers, and engage in other actions when not teaching or in office hours.
As TA supervisors and colleagues of TAs, we will not fully automate the work that was assigned to the TAs in Writing 2. We also have a right, under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, to refuse to do struck work (the work clearly assigned to our TAs and/or readers).
This statement was endorsed by a majority of the faculty in the UCSB Writing Program
(December 11, 2022).