As the month coined as “Striketober” comes to an end, we as students and workers ourselves should be reminded of the immense power that comes with acting collectively. Workers at Nabisco represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union won higher pay, retirement, and benefits. BCTGM workers at Kellogg’s are still on strike in disagreement with new labor contracts proposed by management. John Deere workers walked out two weeks ago in opposition to low pay and a proposed tiered wage structure. Labor shortages among healthcare workers have highlighted blaring problems of worker safety for nurses. Worker power is in the air, and it is becoming glaringly clear bosses and companies don’t care about their employees’ wellbeing.
Garment workers around the world have been watching closely at specific victories in the US, such as the Garment Worker Protection Act passing in California (https://remake.world/stories/news/victory-newsom-signs-sb62-into-law/). It’s important for workers in the Global South to see a victory in the US, and to apply lessons learned to the struggles for union representation and multinational worker safety agreements. The stakes are high. COVID is still a major threat to workers’ safety and wellbeing. The global garment industry still exploits workers en masse. Bosses are directly harassing and harming workers, such as in the case of Jeyasre, an Indian Dalit woman garment worker who was harassed and murdered last January (https://justiceforjeyasre.com/).
Even at the UC there are labor struggles. Lecturers have been fighting for a contract that promotes job security and higher wages and benefits. The university has not met their demands for over a year now, and lecturers are set to go on strike (read about their struggle here: https://ucaft.org/). Student researchers have been fighting for recognition by the university to even get a seat at the bargaining table. Graduate researchers are vastly underpaid, and their contributions to the university are immense (read about their campaign here: https://studentresearchersunited.org/).
It’s as important as ever to tie in workers from across the world with the decisions and actions of students here at UCLA. All across the world, workers are standing up. Our role as students is to stand up and support them, any way we can. Check our website and social media to follow along our campaign as we bring justice to UCLA.