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Department of Performance, Play & Design 2022 UAW Strike Solidarity Statement

The faculty of Department of Performance, Play and Design at the University of California, Santa Cruz express our strong solidarity with academic workers of UAW 5810, UAW2865, and SRU-UAW. Read our statement below:

Department of Performance, Play and Design Solidarity Statement with the 2022 UAW Strike


November 17, 2022

We, the undersigned faculty of the Department of Performance, Play and Design at the University of California, Santa Cruz express our strong solidarity with academic workers of UAW 5810, UAW2865, and SRU-UAW across the University of California who went on strike in November of 2022. We see these actions as allied with unions in our fields such as IATSE, WGAW, SDC, AEA, and the Communication Workers of America

Many faculty members of this department are proud members of national performing arts unions that have successfully and necessarily advocated for more equitable working conditions for decades. It is of no surprise that three of our largest unions are endorsing this strike: Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and Actors Equity Association (AEA). In their letter to UC President Michael Drake, AEA writes: 

Actors and stage managers have a lot in common with academic workers. Too often our labor is discounted because our jobs are not just a vocation but an avocation. But the passion we all bring to our jobs should be seen as a reason to ensure that our work is compensated fairly, and that we are afforded the conditions necessary to succeed. Passion is not enough to counter the unsustainable rent, long commute and lack of support for working parents and international scholars. Our publicly funded institutions must do better by the communities they exist to serve … UC's ongoing failure to support a diverse workforce sends a clear message about who belongs in higher education and who does not. This must change.

This department strongly agrees: this must change. Our classrooms, design studios, play spaces, and rehearsal rooms should be microcosms of the equitable and just future worlds we want our students to build. We cannot have academic and artistic excellence or equity when our students are forced to struggle with dire economic injustices related to Santa Cruz’s high costs of living. Even at this moment, some of our faculty and staff struggle with rent burden and live in temporary housing. Our own department has had lecturers decline offers to work with our students because they could not afford housing here. We have  struggled to recruit many promising graduate applicants, simply because they cannot afford to live here.

We therefore, strongly support the strikers demands. The facts speak loudly. As published by UAW at

  • “The starting minimum annual income for a graduate Teaching Assistant or Student Researcher is $23,246.50, and for a Postdoctoral Researcher it is $55,631”

  • “The average graduate student worker spends a majority of their income – more than 52 percent – on rent, putting them in the “extremely rent-burdened” category”

  • “To relieve average rent burden throughout the UC system, graduate student workers would need a base annual salary of $54,000, postdocs would need a base annual salary of $70,000, and academic researchers would need pay increases of at least 14 percent.”

According to the UC’s own study, 9% of UCSC students had experienced homelessness in 2020. This cannot continue. We urge the UCSC and UC administrations to bargain fairly with the striking workers.

We pledge not to cooperate with any retaliatory or disciplinary measures against lawful strike activity, and we add our voices to the growing list of departments and centers, faculty and staff across the UC system who are calling on the University of California to pay our students enough to live here. 

The undergraduate students, staff, and faculty deeply value the labor of our graduate students; it enriches the vision of this department every day. In addition to the expected teaching and research our graduate students perform, they run an entire theatre, Barnstorm, that offers its own full season each year that offers undergraduate students valuable opportunities to take on creative research. We also acknowledge that rent burden and other financial hardship related to graduate positions here impacts Black, brown, disabled, trans, first gen, poor, working class, and international students disproportionately. 

We urge the UCSC administration to pressure UCOP to bargain with the UAW in good faith and to take the bargaining position of our departmental graduate students and the UC Graduate Student Associations seriously. We also call on the University of California not to retaliate against legitimate strike activity. And we invite the UCSC administration to recognize graduate students as foundational to the University’s research and teaching mission. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022