Thousands of University of California employees on the system's 10 campuses have walked off their jobs and begun a strike for better pay and benefits.
The Los Angeles Times reports that about 48,000 teaching assistants, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, tutors and fellows have walked off their jobs prompting canceled classes, shuttered labs and other academic disruptions just weeks before final exams.
The strike also includes workers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
After negotiations with the United Auto Workers failed to result in an agreement, university officials said a third-party mediator was needed.
“At this time, we believe that the best path to an agreement is with the aid of a third-party mediator,” said Ryan King, a university spokesperson.
Employees are calling for significant pay increases, child-care subsidies, enhanced healthcare for dependents, longer family leave, public transit passes and lower tuition costs for international students.
The two sides recently agreed on stronger protections against workplace bullying and abuse, but the unions contend that the university's proposals on wages remain far from the $54,000 base salary that union leaders say would be fair for graduate student workers.
The university has offered a salary scale increase of 7% in the first year and 3% in each subsequent year for teaching assistants and tutors, but workers have said that’s not sufficient.