Yesterday 75 graduate students from UC Berkeley, members of UAW 2865, held a meeting to make this strike a reality. This is an incredible turnout — shocking even, given the short notice and lack of publicity — especially given the number of formerly quiescent departments in attendance. As things currently stand, our contract expires on Monday (11/15). It appears that UCOP wants the situation resolved before the Regents’ meeting commences on Tuesday (11/16).
It is our duty to make sure that this does not happen.
These clowns think we’ll concede to a pay cut for a few extra bucks in (still inadequate) child care subsidies. And now they are threatening our fee remissions. Oh, hell no. How many PERB violations can we stomach? Are we really just going to keep filing ULP complaints and wait for the legal apparatus of the state to do its thing? What are we waiting for? How much more evidence do we need that only a strike has the ability to show — not to tell, but to show — these bureaucrats and managers that this isn’t a damn game?
For all of those grad students who think the fee remission issue borders on conspiracy theory, as we reported earlier this week this is precisely what happened at the University of Illinois, and now it’s hitting even closer to home: the entire CSU system here in California. As our counterparts in UAW 4123 continue to get the runaround from the CSU administration, a so-called “neutral fact-finding commission” is claiming that working graduate students are not in fact entitled to fee remissions. This is precisely why we can’t leave our fate in the hands of the legal-administrative apparatus of the state.
Likewise, we can’t leave our fate in the hands of the disinterested bureaucrats on the UAW 2865 bargaining team, for whom a strike is nothing more than an empty threat used to spice up an email to the membership. If these careerists won’t declare a strike immediately, we’ll do it for them. This will entail two simultaneous strategies. First, we need to make sure that in the case that the bargaining team caves and sells us out by agreeing to a pay cut and possible loss of fee remissions, we need to be prepared to turn out our colleagues to vote no on this bullshit “agreement.” So few people vote in the contract ratification process — of course another sign of UAW leadership’s moribund state — that with only a couple hundred grad students voting no on the Berkeley campus alone, we can effectively reject the contract for all UC campuses.
But this is insufficient. In addition to rejecting the agreement, we still need a way to actually authorize a strike. And we’ve found it. According to the union’s bylaws, if rank-and-file call a statewide membership meeting and successfully turn out a quorum of 100 students from 5 campuses, we can override the authority of the bargaining team. This is why our opposition caucus announced plans at yesterday’s strike meeting to do just that. Let’s start building for this statewide meeting right away!
We know, we know. You’re tired of statewide meetings. You thought the Oct. 30 conference at SF State was a waste of time. You’re tired of meetings about meetings during which we can call more meetings. So are we. This is not that kind of meeting. All we need is to assemble this quorum on Nov. 30 at UC Berkeley and we’re good to go. In other words, if we build it, a strike will come. No excuses: let’s bring these people out so we can shut this campus down in order to transform it!
If you are currently uninvolved in building for this strike and would like to meet up with those of us organizing it — the opposition caucus in UAW, independent organizers, undergrad allies, etc. — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you get info about the next meeting. This goes doubly if you are a student on another UC campus and want to know what you can do to make this strike a reality through building for the Nov. 30 meeting and getting strike pledges from your campus coworkers.
No more playing around: we want a strike and we want it now!
To the bargaining team: call this strike or reveal yourselves as collaborators with management!
To the administration: prepare for a statewide UC shutdown during finals!
See you at the picket lines…