The university system has denied any illegal action and has called on the unions to stay at the bargaining table. “We are committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith and reaching full agreements as soon as possible,” the statement from the University of California said.
On Monday, the strike appeared to have created significant disruptions. At U.C. Berkeley, picketers demonstrated on a campus that seemed nearly emptied by canceled classes. At U.C. San Diego, a nanotechnology research lab that normally employs about a dozen doctoral, post-doctoral and undergraduate students was closed.
At U.C.L.A., sections of Sociology 101, architecture and other popular undergraduate classes were canceled as the voices of hundreds of strikers boomed throughout the sprawling campus: “U.C., U.C., you can’t hide! We can see your greedy side!”
Enrique Olivares Pesante, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in English at U.C.L.A. who was picketing in front of the school’s film building, said he makes $2,500 per month before taxes, and pays more than half of that in rent for his graduate housing. Most teaching assistants make far less, he said, adding: “It came to this because it was untenable.”
At U.C. Berkeley, Chaka Tellem, 21, the student body president and a senior, sympathized with the strike even though his classes in macroeconomics and African American history had been canceled. “We are on a campus that recognizes, historically and to this day, the importance of collective action, the importance of strikes and nonviolent direct action,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anthony Huo, 19, said he had his hands full just trying to figure out whether his next class would be meeting.
“I think it’s happening,” he said, hustling through the fall air across the storied Berkeley campus. “Maybe? I don’t know. I’ll try.”
Soumya Karlamangla, Holly Secon, Anemona Hartocollis and Noam Scheiber contributed reporting.