Fears rise that UC strike could have long-lasting consequences on vaunted research, teaching
By Rachelle Young, Science Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — It was a scene that could have been pulled straight out of a Disney movie: The University of California at Berkeley students were sitting in an auditorium, listening to a speech by Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook and an ardent supporter of the strikers.
As the student union president at UC Berkeley, he would no doubt have been thrilled to hear the students’ demand that the school be allowed to reopen after a strike. He has been a driving force in the effort to reopen some of the university’s most important academic buildings, which were closed after the 2015-2016 school year because of a nationwide walkout triggered by a contract dispute between the university’s faculty union and the administration.
“We are not afraid,” said Mr. Zuckerberg, to applause.
“If this strike is successful, we are all going to have a greater understanding of what it means to strike,” he added.
But the students of the University of California — and many other unions across the country — do not like the idea of a strike, and they are not prepared to wait until March to demand their demands, fearing for the long-term effects on the school’s research and teaching.
The union has not yet spoken publicly about the strike and is still bargaining with the administration over the terms of the strike, but the union is already well along the path to take the fight to the administration. There have been calls for the union, which has more than 800 members, to picket outside the administration’s headquarters.
“The strike could have a significant impact on UC Berkeley — it could affect student life at the university as well as our city,” said UC Berkeley President Janet Napolitano. “We have to prepare for that and do all we can to minimize disruptions to our students.”
The university is hoping the strike, which began June 25, will be limited to campus buildings: its physical education building, the medical school and the main administration building.
But by early July, the strike had broadened to include the research centers, including the