Law School Events and Sexual Misconduct on Campus

The following message has been sent to members of the Berkeley Unit of UAW 2865:

Dear members,

We write to you with outrage at the recent news that Sujit Choudhry, the (now former) dean of Berkeley Law School, sexually harassed multiple workers at the law school and was permitted to remain in his position with appallingly minor sanctions after an internal investigation concluded that he was guilty of sexual harassment. Top university administrators covered up his actions, and members of the law school community only learned of his behavior from a news outlet, six months after the judgment of the internal investigation. Even after Choudhry admitted to sexually harassing a staff member, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele used his authority to unilaterally “resolve” the complaint by seeking minimal sanctions: a 10% pay cut to his $472,917 salary for one year, a letter of apology, some counseling, and the sexual harassment prevention training that the dean had, until this moment, successfully avoided. According to the survivor, a campus official told her that the Executive Vice Chancellor chose not to dismiss the dean despite his conduct “because it would ruin the dean’s career, that is, destroy his future chances for higher appointment.”

We stand in solidarity with the organized students at Berkeley Law, and call on the administration to accede to their statement of demands. We stand in solidarity with the staff member whose well-being and livelihood were deemed less important than the career of an abuser.

And we are angered, but not shocked, by the way this case conforms to UC Berkeley’s pattern of turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. From ignoring Geoff Marcy’s serial sexual harassment of graduate and undergraduate students in Astronomy, to insisting on hiring subcontracted workers through a company that has exposed its workers to the risk of sexual assault, the Berkeley administration has consistently demonstrated that it values its public image and bottom line over the health and well-being of its staff, faculty, and students. We have no confidence in the university’s policies or leadership when it comes to addressing the serious wrongs that have been done to its community.

For months, UAW 2865 has been requesting that the university do a major overhaul of its policies surrounding sexual violence, including sexual harassment. We offered extensive feedback to the Task Force that President Napolitano appointed to redraft the system-wide policy, and our feedback was roundly ignored in the final, deeply problematic policy.

We will continue to pressure the Berkeley campus administration and the office of the president, working with other campuses and other Berkeley campus groups, including the Graduate Assembly, student leaders in the Law School, post-docs, other unions, and faculty allies, to advocate for the safety of our members, our students, and our fellow workers. The current climate, in which all too often the consequences of sexual misconduct are deemed less significant than the reputation of the offender, must cease, and we demand to be a part of the process of ensuring meaningful change.

If you wish to become more directly involved in the union organizing around these issues on our campus, or wish to be connected to resources for survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment, please feel free to contact Erin Greer (egreer3@gmail.com) or Clare Stinchcombe (clare.stinchcombe@gmail.com). You can also sign our petition to President Napolitano, and keep your eyes out for developments and ways you can support this ongoing campaign.

Yours in solidarity,

Berkeley Unit Leadership, UAW 2865

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

December Monthly Membership Meeting

All members are invited to attend the Berkeley unit’s final Monthly Membership Meeting of 2015. The meeting will take place on Monday, December 7, from 6:30-7:30pm in the union offices, 2030 Addison St, Suite 640A.

Posted in Uncategorized

DA O’Malley: Drop the charges

The Berkeley Unit of UAW2865 has passed a resolution calling upon Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to drop all charges against the Black Friday 14 activists. These activists, we affirm, “should be recognized as visionaries and civil rights heroes. However, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office instead filed criminal charges against them.”

You can read the full resolution here:

UAW 2865 – Berkeley – Resolution Calling On Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to Drop Charges Against the Black Friday 14

You can also sign a petition to add your personal voice to the calls for DA O’Malley to drop these charges: http://iam.colorofchange.org/petitions/drop-the-charges-against-the-blackfriday14

Posted in Uncategorized

November 17: Stewards’ Council and Monthly Membership Meeting

All are welcome at the Stewards Council Meeting and November Membership meeting on Tuesday, November 17. At the SC meeting (from 5:15 – 6:15 pm), we will offer a skills training focused on negotiation. Following the SC Meeting, we will be holding the November MM (6:30-7:30pm). Attend either or both as your schedule permits and your inclinations run.

The meetings will be at our office, located at 2030 Addison St, Suite 640A.

https://www.facebook.com/events/858512497599291/

Posted in Uncategorized

TODAY (11/10/15): Support the BlackFriday14 and low-wage workers trying to unionize

The Berkeley unit has endorsed two important labor and racial justice events happening Tuesday, November 10th. At 1:30pm, folks are rallying in support of the BlackFriday14, the Black Lives Matter activists who shut BART down last November and who are now facing criminal charges by the DA. Join us at 1:30pm at the Alameda County Courthouse, 661 Washington St, Oakland, (between 6th St and 7th St) to tell DA O’Malley to drop the charges. For more info and updates, see:
https://www.facebook.com/events/393653250843815/ You can also sign a petition to DA O’Malley here: http://iam.colorofchange.org/petitions/drop-the-charges-against-the-blackfriday14.

From there, we’ll join the Fight For $15 National Day of Action at Oscar Grant Plaza. The Action begins at 4:30. Pledge to support here: http://fightfor15.org/s-petition/november-10-rsvp/

And find out more info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/901358749959991/

Posted in Uncategorized

October Membership Meeting and Stewards’ Council: Oct 21 5:15-7:30

Please join us on Wednesday, Oct 21, for this month’s Membership Meeting at 6:30pm in the union offices (2040 Addison St, Suite 640A). And if you’re interested in becoming more involved in union work, please also join us at the Stewards’ Council from 5:15-6:15.
 
The Stewards’ Council meeting is open to all rank and file members who are interested in taking on union leadership roles in their own departments. There will be a training covering some of the nuts and bolts of organizing and interacting with management.
 
Our October Membership Meeting will begin after the Stewards’ Council, at 6:30pm. We will elect our campus representatives to the Elections Committee and Bylaws Committee, respectively. We will also review the proposed 2016-2017 budget for our Local. Finally, we’ll hear from a Black Friday 2014 activist on the status of their case and discuss ways we can support them.
 
We hope to see you there!
 
 
Posted in Uncategorized

Statewide Campaign Updates

As we fully enter the swing of the new school year, we wanted to reflect upon some of the big campaigns undertaken by our statewide graduate students’ union this past year. In addition to working together to defend our rights as workers providing excellent undergraduate education, we’ve also been fighting alongside other university communities for quality public higher education that is accessible, diverse, and reflects our values. Below are short reports from fellow student workers from around the state, who describe some of the social justice work we’ve done this past year. The blurbs include information about how you can get involved in this important, ongoing work:

Fighting for Public Higher Education

Last fall, the UAW 2865 joined undergraduates, faculty, and workers to oppose the Regents’ plan to increase tuition at the UC. While the Regents passed tuition hikes for international and out of state students, following statewide protests culminating in walkouts and building occupations, they eventually retracted their plan to increase tuition for California residents. In addition, UC President Napolitano and Governor Brown negotiated a two-year in-state tuition freeze, extending the 2011 tuition freeze. Our work is just getting started, however, and we aim to do much more than prevent the status quo from worsening. As a member of the Reclaim CA Higher Education coalition, UAW 2865 is working with labor unions and public education advocates across California to reinstate the Master Plan, re-establish long-term funding for the state’s three systems of higher education, and revise the state’s budgetary priorities. For example, we recently joined CURB, a coalition that works to redirect state spending from incarceration toward reinvestment in public goods. If you are interested in getting involved with the Reclaim California Coalition, please email Erin Greer (egreer3@gmail.com).

Black Interests Coordinating Committee (BICC)

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black Interests Coordinating Committee (BICC) formed in late 2014 in response to the acquittals of two police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This summer, members of BICC drafted a resolution calling on the AFL-CIO to end its affiliation with police unions, arguing that “their ‘unionization’ allows police to masquerade as members of the working-class and obfuscates their role in enforcing racism, capitalism, colonialism, and the oppression of the working-class.” According to BICC member and UC Davis Head Steward Brandon Buchanon, the intent of the resolution is to “start a really difficult conversation that the labor movement has had in the past and needs to continue to have around the intersections of race and labor, economic privation and racial disparity.” BICC’s resolution was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Joint Council at its July 25 meeting. To get in touch, contact blackinterestscc@gmail.com.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Last fall, our union organized a historically significant vote asking members around the state to weigh in on whether we should join in the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The union’s vote highlighted the UC’s and UAW’s roles in supporting Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians and called for divestment from corporations that profit from the illegal occupation and militarization of Palestine and dispossession of the Palestinian people. On December 4, UAW 2865 members voted overwhelmingly to support our union’s participation in this movement. In addition, the vote included a second component asking members to pledge their participation in an academic boycott of Israeli universities that are complicit in the occupation, which was supported by a majority of our members. To get in touch, contact David McCleary (dfmccleary@gmail.com).

Stop Urban Shield

Building from the vote on BDS and from the union’s work through the Black Interests Coordinating Committee, union members are now working in coalition with other organizations and activists on a campaign to Stop Urban Shield. This campaign aims to highlight the intersections between U.S. domestic and international militarization and the policing of communities of color. Through our endorsement of the Stop Urban Shield campaign and a related mobilization earlier this month, we are putting into practice our commitments to working together to highlight intersections of oppression, foster stronger solidarities in the face of struggle, and build justice in our communities. To get in touch, contact Loubna Qutami (loubie03@gmail.com).

The Bathroom Brigade

In our newest contract, we became the first ever labor union to recognize access to all gender bathroom facilities as a basic workplace right. However, despite this historic win, UC administrators have been slow to recognize this right and upgrade campus facilities to accommodate trans and gender nonconforming students and workers. Working in partnership with the union, the Bathroom Brigade engaged in a series of direct actions last semester to enforce our contractual rights and create all gender bathroom spaces for the campus community. While we continue to face bureaucratic hurdles within the UC, the Bathroom Brigade was instrumental in helping push for an all gender bathroom ordinance in the city of Berkeley, which goes into effect this fall. To get in touch, contact ucopbathrooms@gmail.com.

Anti-Oppression Committee (AOC)

This statewide committee provides a space where members can discuss new and ongoing issues regarding oppression and social justice and create collective resources to address these issues. From specific campus dynamics to the relationship between the UC and its workers, the AOC seeks to maintain an open forum to discuss, educate, train, and empower workers to battle oppression in their relationships and workplaces. Our focus for this year is to build a campaign to re-write the sexual harassment policy in the contract so that it is more enforceable, comprehensive, and survivor-centered. To get in touch, contact Nguyễn Thủy Linh (mellamolinh@gmail.com).

Instructional Opportunities Committee (IOC)

Our last contract recognized the hurdles undocumented graduate students face in gaining valuable teaching experience and financial support while at the UC. In an effort to address these issues, we won recognition of a statewide Instructional Opportunities Committee (IOC) and are working with undocumented student leaders and allies to actualize the objectives of the committee. Specifically, we are creating pathways for equitable teaching experiences and are demanding scholarship funds to comprehensively support undocumented students. This fall we are working on two major projects: 1) a pilot pedagogical program being finalized this quarter, anticipated to start in UCI and extend to all UC campuses by next year 2) Approval of the UC Presidential Scholarship that is equal in monetary amount to what documented students receive while attaining teaching experience. The IOC will continue negotiating with UC administrators in the hopes of implementing these contract provisions next year as well as asking membership to support grassroots efforts for equity for all graduate students. We are an undocumented student led space and are committed to amplifying the undocumented student perspective, to get in touch please contact us via email at ioc-committee@googlegroups.com.

Organizing for Student Dependent Healthcare

In the midst of these positive developments, last spring, two of our campuses (Santa Barbara and Berkeley) were shocked by administrators’ announcements that their schools would no longer be offering student dependent health insurance. Not only did this announcement violate our union’s contractual rights to meet and discuss potential changes to our health plans, but it will harm many UC communities, including international people, people with significant health needs, and undocumented people. This summer, members of our union have been organizing to restore dependent health insurance and fight for more transparent, student-led healthcare committees on all UC campuses. Healthcare organizers at Berkeley have also released a summary detailing the misleading financial information presented to students to compel this decision. Our union intends to prioritize healthcare organizing and help bring the currently less regulated student health insurance under the purview of the Affordable Care Act this year. To get in touch, contact Seth Leibson (sethleibson@gmail.com).

***

These summaries represent only a fraction of the community building and social justice work our union has prioritized over the past year. We hope you’ll get inspired and get involved. To learn more and help shape this year’s priorities, come to our next Monthly Membership Meeting!

Posted in Uncategorized