USC reached a tentative deal with around 3,000 grad students on Sunday. The deal will raise students’ pay, increase benefits, and provide protections against workplace harassment. 

The Graduate Student Workers Organizing Committee, the union representing the grad students, was set to go on strike on Tuesday if a deal hadn’t been brokered.

This is the latest win for labor, following wins for auto workers, hotel workers and the WGA/SAG-AFTRA deals. The move also comes one year after the UC grad student strike.

Saba Waheed, director of the UCLA Labor Center, joined “Inside the Issues” host Amrit Singh to talk about what the recent wins for labor and what the future will hold for unions.

The UCLA Labor Center functions as a multifunctional institute that researches and educates people about labor, while also advocating for labor policy.

Waheed has been the director of the labor center for a month, coming in around the same time hot labor summer was drifting into the fall.

“[Coming in] when the labor movement is at its highest moment that we haven’t seen in decades,” Waheed said. “At the same time, it’s decades in the making… This has been building up. Something like COVID came in and just exacerbated the issues.”

The role of artificial intelligence was a major focal point for several of the recent labor strikes. AI has the potential to offer many benefits, but it can also drastically impact the workforce in a negative way, depending on its implementation.

Waheed says having workers’ voices be present during any discussion around future policy will be key making sure AI is implemented properly.

“If we don’t put guardrails around these things on the front end, we’re often just trying to Band-aid it on the back,” Waheed said.