SAN DIEGO – Last December, thousands of University of California academic researchers and teaching assistants were among those to get significant pay hikes after going on strike. Now some fear the UC may cut back on graduate student admissions to help cover the costs of the pay hike.

While the battle has been won for academic workers, the repercussion of that win now raises this prevalent question: How can the UC pay for these costly labor contracts?

Danea Palmer is a PhD chemistry student researcher at UC San Diego who joined hundreds of thousands of academic workers statewide in the fight for higher wages. She says she’s now left in fear of her future as she alleges the UC is retaliating against strikes last year.

“It’s just a really scary message that you can’t do things that will stand up to that, that you can’t fight against it and that will be met with punishment and solution rather than help from the faculty,” Palmer said.

While this battle ended in a win for Palmer and her student colleagues, she says it all comes with a caveat, which could lead to cutting back on graduate student admissions in order to afford the costly labor contract.

“We reached a deal at the bargaining table in a fair way and the university is doing everything it can to back out of it,” Amy Kanna, a PhD Computer Science and Enginering student explained to FOX 5.

“The retaliation in our department is quite terrifying because it’s setting a very bad precedent.”


A new legal battle is now brewing as UC workers will have to repay the money they earned while on strike. Unions allege the university is violating state laws.

“The lawyers representing these workers are saying that the proper procedure would have been to withhold wages during the period in which these workers were striking because they weren’t working, not to withhold wages and garnish wages now that they’re back at work full time,” FOX 5 legal analyst Wendy Patrick explained.

The University is sighting both state and federal laws which prevent the UC from paying employees who choose not to work. In response, union lawyers filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging in part this:

“The lawyers also are arguing that the procedure that is being used by the university might chill the rights of workers to strike again. So, it might chill their ability and willingness to emphasize the first amendment rights to go on strike,” Patrick explained.

As of right now, both the UC as well as the union, know how many strike workers will see their pay docked. As for the charges filed against the university, labor unions are now awaiting a response.