The University and College Union (UCU)–Britain’s trade union for academics–has gone on strike. The strike is about the University Superannuation Scheme (USS)’s decision to switch academics from “defined benefit” pension plans to “defined contribution” plans. As a PhD student at Cambridge I write this piece at home, having skipped a couple events I really wanted to go to today, because this strike is so important, both to academia and to the cause of working people more generally. My hope is that I can explain the strike to those who don’t know much about it and defend it to any who doubt its necessity.
There are three broad reasons this strike is important:
The contribution it makes to defending the right of all working people to retire comfortably.
The contribution it makes to defending the quality and standing of British universities.
The contribution it makes to defending and extending the capacity of working people in western democracies to protect their interests effectively through collective bargaining.
Related: 25% of Madison’s K-12 budget was spent on benefits in 2014-2015. Spending has increased substantially since then, now approaching $20,000 per student.