TA Strikes Come at a Bad Time

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First it was Albertsons.
In their sixth week of striking, grocery store employees are still fuming over the slash in health care benefits.
This is all fine and good with me. I surrender my need for fresh pico de gallo in the name of a more important cause.
But there is another very important group that supports the grocery store employee union, and that is the teaching assistants at all the UC campuses.
The TA union’s rhetoric is as follows: if Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons succeeds in tearing health care benefits from its employees, the repercussions will be felt by workers not just in retail food services, but everywhere.
So, while going to Trader Joe’s instead of Albertsons for milk once in awhile is okay by me, I certainly have a bit more of a problem with the TAs going on strike.
Can we say ‘week 10′? Finals are coming, boys and girls, and we are about to be left stranded by those we often rely on the most to help us through our frantic study schedule: TAs
My sociology TA sent out a very cordial and apologetic e-mail last week, letting us know he would not be holding discussion this week nor would he or the other TAs for the same class, in the event of an official, full-fledged strike, be able to hold the review session that was previously promised to us.
I am just crossing my fingers that the strike can wait, because with finals week fast approaching, I really need to utilize that review session!
I do not blame the TAs or the union for their desire to strike. They want fair labor practices and they are entitled to communicating their wants and needs to the university in any way possible.
The problem with this is its timeliness. The TA union, UAW local 2865, says that their purpose in striking is to create a better environment not just for TAs, tutors and the like, but to improve the quality of the students’ education.
According to a statement released by the union, ‘increasing workloads, growing section sizes and an administrative focus on the bottom-line undermines [our] quality of education.’
You know what undermines my quality of education? Being abandoned during finals week!
Garnering support for the TAs and the improvement of educational conditions for both those who teach and those who learn is absolutely on my agenda. But why now?
Even the effort to hire replacement employees, which may be more beneficial for next quarter if initiated in conjunction with the start of winter classes, will not help students now, during fall quarter exams. How are we supposed to learn from someone who has no idea what we’ve been studying since September?
The union’s message of helping to improve the quality of education, both for TAs, students and even lecturers and professors, has become hypocritical in the decision to strike at a time when their students and colleagues need them most.
I beg you, my wonderful sociology TA, to do what you can to help prepare us for finals, and in turn I promise to support you.

Emily Reiter is a second-year English major.

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