Letter from our comrade in LA: CSU Trustees pass 15 % fee hike

Hello from Los Angeles. I am part of the LA March 4th Committee to Defend Public Education and Social Services. What you are doing in the UC and UC Berkeley is inspiring! Please continue to show militancy in our fight against the cuts.

Today the California State University Board of Trustees (CSU BOT) voted for a 15 % increase in tuition. Although there was an uproar from the student community yesterday (people who protested during the meeting yesterday broke back into the meeting), today when the cuts were being voted on we were faced with our own lack of preparedness. The union bureacracy and their student front group Students for Educational (SQE) Reform were the only force there. And they were not a real force.

SQE —  I am sure with the guidance of the California Faculty Association (CFA) — had a CARNIVAL against the cuts. They had balloons, hula hoops, and various other games to play. This while on the other side of the wall the Board is voting to increase tuition by 15 %. There was no resistance inside.

This is not how we are going to win the battle against the cuts! The Berkeley GSIs who are fighting to shut their campus down, the November Regents meeting at UCLA, and Wheeler Hall are examples of militancy that we need to extend and repeat.

What else can we learn from this easy defeat? That the administrators of education are taking advantage of a weak moment in the movement. The last education conference was smaller than the first. This was because the conferences were focused on setting a next date of action and other parlimentary issues. LA M4 fought for adding “social services” to our title and including an end to racism, sexism, homophobia, and class discrimination in our demands for example.

However, if our conferences continue to be about political jockeying for which political group is going to control the conference then we will continue to shrink. If our conferences do not address the developments in different sectors and regions of work we will continue to spend hours long meetings with people we do not know. If lunch time is the only time to discuss political ideas, disagreements, etc., then we will continue to shrink.

Lastly, there has been discussion in LA (indirectly) about who and how we organize. Should we organize only students and workers on campus or should we include workers who are not on the campus? In Los Angeles for example we have made a concerted effort to orient towards the immigrant rights struggle and unite it with the education struggle. We have also intervened when the police murdered Manuel Jamines pointing out the connection between cuts in services and increased State terror. Lastly, we flyered for October 7th at the Department of Social Services when the cuts to social services were handed down. We will continue to go to the DPSS to also involved community support.

Another point: in Los Angeles we had a huge fight against the union bureacracy, in particular the leadership of the United Teacheres of Los Angeles (UTLA) who represent K-12 teachers and the California Faculty Association (CFA) who represent Cal State Teachers. They attempted for example to keep me from speaking on the podium although I was elected to represent the LA March 4th Committee by our organization.

We smashed on those bureaucrats! They were forced to back down. This was because we had rank and file support. We went to union meetings and spoke with the rank and file. We organized ourselves as well at campuses and universities.

That discussion was missing from last week’s conference. When we plan our conferences we all made the mistake of not pushing the issue of politics over pragmatics. That was reflected in the lack of attendance at this past meeting and the ability for a freakin’ CARNIVAL to be the only visible protest against the cuts! If we recruit the janitors or support staff to our movement there would have been a completely different character to the protest and we could learn something from rank and file organizing.

Solidarity with the student-worker movement!

Solidarity with the graduate students who are organizing for a fight back!

Get ready for the Regents meeting…

Julia Wallace
Member of the LA March 4th Committee to Defend Public Education and Social Services.

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