The information sheet below is also available as a pdf here: ulp info sheet3
This is a repost of an article written by Lilith, originally published in The Berkeley Graduate here: http://www.theberkeleygraduate.com/2014/02/union-update/
UC Student Workers’ union UAW Local 2865 represents GSIs, TAs, and readers across the UC system, collectively bargaining for the student workers’ contracts and rights.
Because the Union and the University have not yet been able to reach an agreement, the bargaining continues.
Last semester, The Berkeley Graduate covered the debate over social justice issues in contract negotiations, a contract bargaining update from Union Head Steward Beezer de Martelly, the strike authorization vote, and the subsequent sympathy strike.
Many of these issues remain relevant in the ongoing contract campaign.
Bargaining will resume next week with a session at UC Davis on the 10th & 11th. This semester, in addition to wages and fees, the Union will be focusing on the following bargaining points: undocumented student benefits, class size, student parent assistance, and all-gender bathrooms. “Artivist” Julio Salgado recently created a poster highlighting these demands. Union members will distribute 3500 posters around the campuses as an organizing tool. Contact the Berkeley unit of the Union for copies of the poster to distribute.
Aside from the contract negotiations themselves, union members are organizing around a number of issues which affect the bargaining process, graduate student workers, and the University.
Union leadership spent eight hours at the Joint Council meeting in Irvine last weekend discussing union concerns such as bylaws changes, the budget, and a week of visibility for the anti-oppression demands, intended to coincide with the next bargaining session.
On the legal end, the Union has filed several unfair labor practice complaints. Last semester’s charge that the administration refused to furnish certain information on student workers resulted in the University providing that information. Two more charges are pending: one in response to campus police filming students protesting, and one regarding the administration’s refusal to bargain on student-instructor ratios.
The most recent complaint, regarding the administration’s refusal to bargain on social justice issues will probably be dropped because the University has begun to negotiate on these counts, adding language to the contract about improving access to all-gender bathroom and lactation spaces for student parents, for example.
In late November, the University also began to negotiate on financial issues, increasing their wage proposal from a 2% increase to 3%, and making some movement on student leaves and childcare subsidies.
Members are appealing to the new Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to take a stand on the social justice issues, and will meet with new University President Janet Napolitano in the coming weeks to discuss the demands.
Hope everyone is well-rested and ready for another exciting semester of union activities! Our first Monthly Membership Meeting of the semester will be on Wednesday, January 29th from 5:30-7pm at the Union Hall (2070 Allston Way, Suite 205).
Continuing in the conversation and goals we set at our December MMM, we’ll discuss the kinds of actions and organizing strategies we can build together on our campus this semester in order to continue to grow our collective power and voice at the bargaining table. There will be time to ask questions and to learn more about our current contract campaign and the bargaining process so come with questions if you’re interested in learning more and getting involved!
“Solidarity is not a matter of sentiment but a fact, cold and impassive as the granite foundations of a skyscraper.” – Eugene Debs
Dear UAW 2865:
On behalf of the 22,000 Patient Care and Service workers at the University of California, I must express my profound gratitude for your solidarity in the course of AFSCME 3299’s ongoing contract fight, and specifically for your strike in sympathy with our strike on November 20th. A strike requires a sacrifice on the part of every worker who walks, and what your members sacrificed in sympathy with our strike is not lost on us, or on UC.
The strike last week was our loud message to UC that their intimidation of our members won’t get them labor peace, and that an environment of fear at UC is unsafe, holds back progress, and can’t be allowed to persist. Last Wednesday we showed UC that, if anything, their fear tactics have made us stronger, and your presence on those picket lines showed UC that we are most definitely not alone. That’s inspiring and powerful, and UC should be nervous.
While the immediate issues of service and patient care workers might differ in some ways from those of graduate student workers, our interests are entirely the same. AFSCME 3299 stands in ready support of your fight with UC, in common struggle, and we look forward to winning a better university with you.
President, AFSCME 3299
Open letter in response to this message from a socially unconscious Berkeley Professor as well as part of the reason why I went on strike as a GSI last Wednesday:
By Michal Olszewski, Graduate Student Instructor in Molecular and Cell Biology
Dear anonymous UCB Professor,
In your recent letter, you mentioned that you have been on the wrong side of political judgments before, unfortunately I am afraid that this might be the case again. Education is a process that also happens outside of classrooms. It is communal, it is complicated and it is impossible to achieve when we isolate ourselves and ignore what is going on with the rest of our society.
Your letter though extensive in length, does not contain any logic. From what I can gather, your argument is that we live in a world of developing technology and as students at UCB are part of an elite and exceptional group; therefore we don’t have to worry about the society we live in. I cannot condone this argument. In fact, I find it extremely disturbing that as a professor you are encouraging your students to embrace egoism and to focus on their own education and merit rather than be socially conscious human beings. Education and social justice are not mutually exclusive. Disturbingly, throughout the entirety of your long and disjointed tirade, you do not once mention any of the reasons behind Wednesday’s strike, which makes me believe that you have already made a choice to focus purely on what you refer to as the “technological life”.
I too believe that the education of young people is important, which is exactly why I went on strike yesterday. Unfortunately, I doubt if you are aware that your students have a right to a public education because others were fighting and striking for it in the past. I wonder if you or your students know that the AFSCME workers including custodians, cafeteria workers, gardeners etc. were striking with the GSIs to prevent the 81% tuition fee hikes on undergrads back in 2011. The same people standing in the pouring rain Wednesday protesting the University’s unfair labor practices are part of the reason why students, including your particular math class, are able to “be *obsessed* with [their] education”.
It is sad that many UC Berkeley students and professors have forgotten what has happened at the steps of Sproul Plaza decades ago. Yes, social issues are complicated, but that does not mean they should be ignored! In the not so distant past, students were arrested and beaten by police because they wanted to make their voices heard. Our right to engage in political discourse on campus has literally been paid for with the blood UCB alumni.
I am a graduate student in the Sciences, however unlike so many others in our field, I refuse to solely focus on just my own career and education. Students and universities are not isolated entities outside of the realm of society. The fact that we have had a chance to access higher education does not make us better or more deserving than those who have been deprived of this opportunity. We are the lucky ones. Our success doesn’t mean that we can turn our back on those who are less fortunate. We have a duty to pull others up alongside us.