Just when we thought we’d seen it all, the leadership of UAW 2865 — each and every one of whom is a member of the Administration Caucus — is trying to reinvent itself as activists interested in social reform. Is it a coincidence that this is happening immediately prior to an a statewide triennial election in the Local? Of course not.
The first signs of this half-hearted makeover attempt came in early February just prior to a vacancy election in the local. This was the first time to our knowledge that the “Social and Economic Justice Caucus” (née Administration Caucus) used its new-found moniker in writing. The “SEJ” folks abruptly withdrew from these elections in the name of unity; they proceeded to accuse those running on a slate other than that of the Administration Caucus of “infighting” and being divisive. In other words, the SEJ/Administration Caucus represented the existence of multiple contending platforms in an election as a threat to the union’s future. A diversity of voices as a threat. Yes, we would’ve dismissed this logic as a joke too, but it’s real. We’re reproducing the original email below in full just to prove it:
A Message from the Social and Economic Justice Caucus, UAW Local 2865
We, the undersigned, are members of UAW Local 2865 and of the Social
and Economic Justice Caucus within our local. We are all currently
scheduled to run in contested elections for open union offices.
Opposing us are candidates who campaigned against the recent contract
ratification. We have many differences with them, but we share a
common interest in strengthening our local union. As committed
members, we are thrilled to see so much interest in building this
grassroots union, and encourage all members to get more involved, to
take a leadership role, and to fight against the attacks on higher
education and working people.
This year, too much energy has already been spent on infighting. Every
hour spent campaigning between well-intentioned union activists is an
hour not spent getting more people involved, turning out for the March
2nd day of action, filing grievances to enforce our contract or
talking with members one-on-one to keep our union membership strong.
Therefore, in the interest of inclusiveness, diversity, and putting
aside our differences to focus on the larger goal of defending public
education and fighting for social justice, we hereby announce that we
will all be withdrawing from the upcoming election, thereby allowing
our opposition to assume office immediately.
We understand that there are many points of view on the best way to
fight back against the budget cuts and fee increases. We believe very
strongly that the vision shared by our slate of candidates is both the
most progressive and the most powerful of all those put forward by the
existing candidates. However, we also believe that our union is more
powerful as a united force, joined in the goals that we all share:
fighting for the rights and benefits of our members, the broader
campus community and for advancing social justice for working people
Nobody needs to have a formal leadership position to participate in
the important work we have ahead of us. We all pledge to do just as
much and to fight just as hard as we would have had we been elected to
the positions for which we accepted nomination. We hope that our
decision encourages all elected leaders, as well as all members, to
work together on the many things we agree on, so that we will become
an even stronger force in pushing back against attacks on higher
education and continuing to advance the cause of social justice at UC
Isabelle Placentia, UCR, Head Steward Candidate
Joshua Hollowell, UCR, Head Steward Candidate
Camille C. Peters, UCB, Head Steward Candidate
Marquell Craddock, UCB, Trustee & Head Steward Candidate
Coral Wheeler, UCI, Head Steward Candidate
Marie van Staveren, UCI, Head Steward Candidate
Adam Kaiserman, UCI, Head Steward Candidate
Rees Garmann, UCLA, Head Steward Candidate
Graham Raulerson, UCLA, Head Steward Candidate
Albert Lowe, UCLA, Head Steward Candidate
Jacob Burstein-Stern, UCLA, Head Steward Candidate
Pedro Mojica, UCLA, Head Steward Candidate
Marcus Desmond Harmon, UCLA, Trustee Candidate
And it don’t stop. The following day, the SEJers put the thing onto a blog, which you can still access here. There hasn’t been a post since. This should recall the Administration Caucus’ attempt at blog populism during last semester’s no vote campaign. Two posts — including some priceless swipes at yours truly — and never another update. Compare this not only with our own blog (which remains unaffiliated with AWDU) but with that of our comrades in AWDU at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, and UCLA, all of which are updated on a regular basis by an open committee of rank-and-file UAW 2865ers. Again and again we’ve seen the incumbents in the Administration Caucus astroturf in the name of the membership.
The latest attempt at such astroturfing comes with the second SEJ/Administration Caucus email sent out to what we can only assume is a large number of undisclosed recipients. As with the first email, we’re copying it in its entirety below:
Dear fellow Graduate Students, TAs, GSIs, Readers and Tutors,
We are writing to inform you about the very important, upcoming election for leadership in UAW 2865, the union representing academic student employees at UC, and to encourage you to participate.
This message is from United For Social and Economic Justice, a team of local union activists who will be running together in the election. We are union members from every UC campus and across a variety of departments. You can learn more about us on our website.
We are the team of union activists currently leading UAW 2865. We supported the great new contract that made gains for Academic Student Employees, and have worked tirelessly to enforce that contract and to oppose attacks on collective bargaining. By engaging in pragmatic and progressive political action, we have fought fee hikes, supported low-wage workers and helped to pass pro-labor legislation. We’ve also helped organize nearly 20,000 academic workers over the past ten years, and we are proud to run on our record.
We are also writing to pledge to run a positive and constructive campaign that advances the interests of academic student employees at UC, UAW 2865 and the labor movement more broadly. For example, we will run on our record as union leaders and we will not engage in personal attacks and negative campaigning. We call on our opponents to make the same commitment.
While we always place a premium on positive and constructive political engagement, doing so in the context of the mounting right-wing attacks on unions (and especially public sector unions such as ours) is especially important. Candidates for union office ought to demonstrate they are worthy of the offices they seek by campaigning responsibly.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and please forward it far and wide.
We want to hear from you! Click HERE to let us know what your priorities are for the future of the union.
President, UAW Local 2865
On behalf of United for Social and Economic Justice
Disclaimer: This message is not official UAW 2865 communication, it is campaign material related to an internal union election.
The SEJ has now launched a website here, complete with a slideshow in which they attempt to take credit for a number of actions with which they had little to no part in organizing, such as the AWDU-organized grade-ins at UC Berkeley and UCSC, the March 4 Day of Action (it was an AWDU-initiated resolution at a membership meeting that got this on the agenda at Berkeley and Santa Cruz), and the Nov. 17 Regents Meeting (at which we only only saw a single member of the Administration Caucus, and he was only there to do TV interviews before bolting; meanwhile, AWDU members protested until they were taken away in cuffs). We do however give full credit to the SEJ/Administration Caucus for their tireless work campaigning for the man who cut $1.4 billion from California’s public higher education system (including $500 million from the UC system), ran on a platform of such austerity that the Christian Science Monitor described it as resembling that of the Republicans, and just last week claimed that UC tuition could double in the immediate future. Great use of union dues, guys. But anything for “social and economic justice,” right?
Lest the SEJ/Administration Caucus folks accuse us of “negative campaigning,” we have no hard feelings toward them as individuals, nor are we particularly interested in libeling them. But more importantly, we can’t engage in any campaigning, as we aren’t even running in this election, nor are we affiliated with any UAW caucus. The point of this post is to call attention (in writing) to the clear connection between the nascent “SEJ” Caucus and its roots in (if not identical status to) the Administration Caucus.