About 48,000 academic employees across the University of California system walked off the job Monday morning, demanding higher pay and improved working conditions, according to the union representing them.

Striking workers include researchers, graduate student researchers and instructors, trainees, fellows, and others who provide academic support across the University of California’s 10 campuses.

The unions representing some 48,000 teaching assistants, researchers, postdoctoral scholars, tutors, and graders say the vast majority of members turned out at picket lines starting at 8 a.m.

They say they are seeking significant pay increases and child-care subsidies to afford the cost of living in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Berkeley, where housing costs are soaring.

Among the salary demands, the union wants a $70,000/year minimum salary for post-doctoral employees; their current salary range starts at $55,632/year.

The UAW, which has been negotiating since Spring 2021, alleges the University of California has taken unlawful actions such as bypassing the bargaining process and making unilateral decisions.

The strike threatens to disrupt classroom and laboratory instruction across the statewide university system just weeks ahead of final exams in December. Some instructors were already telling some students classes were on hold indefinitely.

UC has offered a salary scale increase of 5% in the first year and 3% afterward, but workers say that is not adequate.