The Clerical Workers' Union is on strike for the next few days on campus, for very good reasons, I think. The university is clearly trying to screw over temporary workers, and they're just not bargaining in good faith. That being said, I feel that the timing of the strike leaves much to be desired.
The strike dates are Monday, August 26th through Wednesday, August 28th. Those are the first three days of classes for the fall semester. Some classes will be cancelled Wednesday, either due to a lecturers' (non-tenured instructors) strike, or simply out of solidarity with the strikers. There were signs, chants, protesters, rallies, informational handouts, and picket lines all over the campus today. Honking horns and pro-union buttons showed support from all sorts of people. And still, everywhere you looked, picket lines were being crossed without a second thought.
The reason is that the strike is happening too early. The first few days of school at Cal are chaotic already, with students crashing classes left and right, trying to move up on waiting lists and frantically rearranging their schedules. The fall semester is much worse, since it's the first day for both freshpeople and junior transfer students. As a result, students who would normally show solidarity with strikers are too worried about being dropped from classes to respect the picket lines and stay off campus. I should know, as I was one of them.
There's also an information overload: anyone who ventured onto campus today had flyers thrust at them advertising anything from the Korean Christian Fellowship to Berkeley College Republicans to the Chinese Christian Fellowship. Tables for various student groups lined Sproul Plaza all day long, and the Sproul preachers were all out in force. As worthy and as informative as strike flyers and signs were, it was easy for them to get lost in the sea of papers and banners.
I'm sure that striking on the first few days of the semester disrupted the machinery of campus about as much as possible. And I'm sure the administration has been sent a message about the importance of the clerical workers. Still, I think the strike could have had a lot more impact on the second or third week of class, when students could have been more informed and aware of the issues, when freshmen could have attended their first day of college without being confronted with crossing picket lines, and when instructors could have figured out what the hell was going on - I had one professor who returned from overseas, and didn't hear about the strike until Sunday night.
In conclusion, I support the clerical workers, but I'm also a dirty strikebreaker. But I'm staying home tomorrow...