If you haven’t yet heard, graduate student fee remissions are currently at risk. That’s right. These fools are asking us to pay them in order to teach.
At Tuesday’s bargaining session between UAW 2865 (representing 12,000 teaching assistants, readers, and tutors on all UC campuses) and UC Office of the President (UCOP), UCOP held their line that graduate student instructors (GSIs) deserve a pay cut in real terms. They offered us a few extra hundred in child care subsidies per semester — still a laughably insufficient sum — but refused to budge on wages.
And then we found out what they really had in store for us.
Next Tuesday the UC Regents will be voting to change “educational fees” to “tuition.” (It goes without saying that we’ll be shutting that shit down.) Our bargaining team, conscious of these impending changes, told UCOP’s team that they wanted fee remissions for working GSIs, readers, and tutors regardless of what they decide to rename “fees.” UCOP refused to guarantee fee remissions following the Regents’ vote. In fact, they made their intentions explicit to the UAW bargaining team when they indicated that this may in fact be a conscious decision on the part of the administration (and of UCOP in particular).
While we are of course averse to conspiracy theories, this shit is all too real. In fact, this is precisely what happened last fall to our counterparts at the University of Illinois. Or at least what the UI administration tried to force through. What happened?
Graduate students went on strike until this extortionary plan was reversed once and for all. Members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO = AFT/IFT Local 6300) refused to teach or grade until this ridiculous proposal was tossed into the dustbin where it belongs. These administrative scumbags have since tried to revive the proposal, but GEO remains mobilized.
The question then is why the hell our own union on arguably the most mobilized campus in the country — with an active rank-and-file caucus and a vibrant student-worker movement — refuses to declare a strike. We’ve had enough. How many ad hoc bargaining sessions and contract extensions can we really have with these people? Haven’t they shown their true colors yet? Why the hell is our bargaining team — ostensibly our allies — even considering accepting a token increase in child care subsidies while wage cuts and this end of fee remissions is on the table?
Enough is enough!
We don’t need these bureaucrats — ours or theirs — to tell us when we can and can’t go on strike. In fact we already know when our bargaining team thinks we should go on strike: never. That’s why it’s been over a dozen years since our last strike. Are we going to sit around and wait for these clowns to prattle on with our enemies? Or are we going to take action and force these bureaucrats to declare a strike immediately?
But how, you ask?
That’s precisely what we’ll be discussing tomorrow at 4 pm in Dwinelle 88 at UC Berkeley. The elimination of fee remissions is not a game. We’re talking an extra $9000 in fees for GSIs, readers, and tutors. We make fucking $16K/year and they want to take close to 60 % of our earnings? Worse yet, our bargaining team won’t declare a strike over the issue?
Come to the meeting on Friday so we can figure out how we’re going to respond to this nonsense, both from UCOP and from the bureaucrats who claim to represent us on the UAW bargaining team. We have a proposal: Why not occupy our own union office until these idiots declare a strike? Why not get our counterparts on other campuses to do the same?
Stop stalling, call for a strike without delay!
Refusal to call for a strike amounts to collaboration with management!
No contract, no grades!