Why Did 48,000 UC Workers Go on Strike? A Conversation with Dr. Trevor Griffey


Why did thousands of workers at prestigious universities in the United States go on strike in 2022? How did we get to this historic moment, and is it really over? This episode explores:

  • The myriad ways universities can wield power over workers and even their families.
  • Why university workers are divided into different unions—and why some have no union representation at all.
  • How inflation, student debt, housing shortages, health insurance access, and the constriction of the tenure-track put unbearable pressure graduate students, adjuncts, and instructors.
  • The limitations of sympathy strikes.
  • How higher education became a gig economy.
  • Why this generation of students and their parents have more power to change academic inequality than they may realize.

Our guest is: Trevor Griffey is a Lecturer in U.S. History at UC Irvine and in Labor Studies at UCLA. He is co-founder of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, and co-editor of the book Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Actiton and the Construction Industry (Cornell University Press, 2010). He currently serves as the Vice President of Legislation for the University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT), which represents non-Senate faculty and librarians in the University of California system.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

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Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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