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On the history of our current struggle.

8 May

There is a brief history/review of the relation between the NO-VOTE campaign of the new UAW Local 2865’s contract and current struggles to democratize our union at the following link:


Thanks… but there will be more to come.

4 Dec

Dear Grads,

The staff at ucgradstrike would like to thank you for all your visits, comments, and support throughout the Vote NO campaign. Although it is unfortunate that the vote was ratified on the new contract with astronomical numbers from all campuses, (including the suspiciously-Yes-landslides @ UCSD, UCLA, and UCSB), it does not mean that we will stop fighting to better the conditions for student workers at the University of California.

Our struggle has demonstrated the power that students have when they are willing to shake someone’s hand and talk candidly with her/him about similar concerns; it has made us understand that we are not alone and that we have the power to become stronger when new challenges become present.

From Irvine to the rest of the UCs… we love and thank you.


A Graduate’s Take On The Results of the Vote (UAW Graduate Student Union 2865)

4 Dec

From Work Resumed On the Tower by Robert Wood (UC Irvine):

The advocates for the recently ratified contract between UAW 2865 and the University of California are claiming the recent vote shows a resounding support for the process.  At an initial look, that may look correct.  After all, the “yes” vote received a rather substantial 62% of the vote.  However, this doesn’t take a number of things into account.  I’ll begin by taking the numbers at their face value, and then bring up some potential problems with the numbers.  Even if we take the numbers at their face value, the percentage of yes votes is considerably smaller than earlier contracts.  This points to substantial structures of opposition that exist to the current contract.  Additionally, the campuses that had students on the ground, organizing to reject the contract, overwhelmingly rejected the contract.  78% of Berkeley graduates students voted against the contract, 90% of Santa Cruz graduate students voted no, and 57% of Irvine graduate students voted no, which means the campuses that got to hear a genuine debate over the quality of the contract tended to vote against it.

Additionally, there are a number of suspicious aspects to the voting totals that came out of the election.  The victory for the contract largely came out of massive votes for the contract at the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara campuses.  Each of these campuses voted for the contract at a rate of over 90%, and more significantly, the voting percentage of members was above 40%, with San Diego at 41%, Los Angeles at 43%, and Santa Barbara at a remarkable 49%.  This means that the schools who voted yes, brought in about 4% to 21% more votes than schools that voted no.  This is particularly striking given the fact that the schools that supported the contract have a reputation for not being active union campuses, contrasting with the strong activist traditions such as Berkeley and Santa Cruz.  The difficulty is that there is very little positive evidence for any accusations for vote rigging.  There have been some problems with the voting process.  In one location, a voting box was clear.  There have been some problems with union officials advocating too close to the voting table, but most of these issues have been relatively minor, probably are tied up with the informalities taken in earlier elections, and don’t really translate into any sort of substantial rigging of the ballots in and of themselves.  Perhaps, there are revelations that will appear in the next few days, but without such material, it will be difficult to translate these suspicions into any substantial allegation.  Here is a link with some of theconcerns.

So the question that is put before us at this point is what is to be done at this point?  There has been some muttering on the interstices about a decertification campaign.  I can understand folks frustration about the process, but that is a dangerously bad idea.  It would put the entire history of our bargaining process in jeopardy, in ways that union officialdom could only pretend about the current contract process.  Additionally, for all the problems that have occurred within that process, the problems that we have with our union are relatively minor.  One need only look at the precautions that dissident Teamsters had to take to challenge the official union line at the beginning of the Teamsters for a Democratic, often risking physical violence and death.  I heard of similar circumstances with the custodial workers during my years as a student janitor.  I don’t intend to bring up those stores in order to dismiss our current situation, but to point out that organizations such as TDU have been able to make substantial reforms in their unions under much more precarious situations.

So as you might guess, I think the way forward is through the TDU model.  We need to create and develop a reform organization within the union itself.  We can use this to challenge the leadership in the upcoming elections, through a reform slate.  We can use this structure to produce a new set of activists dedicated to a stronger, more participatory vision of the union.  Most significantly, we can use this as a way to put ourselves in a position where we have activists overlooking the elections for all the campuses, as well as having a more militant voice on all the campuses.  After all, whatever the reason, the absence of such forces on most of the campuses led to the passing of the contract.  We need to capture the remaining energy from the vote no campaign, and use it to create the long term structures needed to work towards a more democratic and participatory union.  There is an interesting example of this structure in Washington.  (Here is their blog.  Additionally, there is a organization in Berkeley.)  We need to recognize that we need structure and resources to transform this small revolt into something that crosses at least the majority, if not all campuses.  Unions are, at their heart, democratic centralist organization.  We need structures to make sure that the leadership is accountable to an active and engaged rank and file membership.

That being said, I am by no means dismissing the remarkable activism that occurred in this campaign.  Comrades from Berkeley and Santa Cruz came out with excellent material defending a no vote, and Brian Malone was particularly tireless in countering the nonsense from the leadership.  (I’m probably ignoring the labor of a lot of folks who were just as tireless, I apologize, but I probably don’t know you as well.)  At Irvine, a small group of activists came out day and night for four days, and probably led to the campus voting no.  My advocacy of organizational formality is no means a dismissal of that substantial labor.  Instead, I see it as a way of creating structures and networks of communication that would allow for that labor to accomplish even more than it did.  Additionally, it would give us a venue to produce a coherent counter-vision to the current business union model of the UAW, a vision that would challenge the logic of privatization that lets the top administration get millions of dollars in bonuses, while workers’ salaries are cut and tuition goes up.  When the union accepts the logic of the ‘crisis’, it legitimates the consolidation of class power that occurs under the name of ‘crisis.’

Concerns of fraud on the ratification vote

3 Dec

(This blog was posted yesterday and comes to us via UCSC Grad Student Organizing Committee‘s website. Given the final “results” of the vote count last night, we are publishing this article today to show you just how this voting count doesn’t make any sense, especially after hearing allegations of voter manipulation at the polls, and after noticing how the UCLA and UCSD campuses managed to pull an over-fucking-whelming Yes vote with little to no organizing on a hotly debated issue):


In the final hours of voting on a proposed contract (go vote if you haven’t!), serious concerns have emerged about whether the UAW 2865 contract ratification vote has been administered and will be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner. We believe that there are probably  enough “no” votes for us to win this election even with a certain amount of fraud and/or tampering on the part of Administration Caucusmembers. (The Administration Caucus has been the central apparatus of the UAW’s single-party state for over 60 years, and the entire inner circle of UAW 2865 leadership are Administration Caucus members.)

  • There are concerns concerns that votes will be counted in an irregular manner. The chair of the Elections Committee, Fawn Huisman, has refused to share information with the Elections Committee members on other campuses about daily campus turnout figures, despite stipulating before the beginning of the vote that she would do so. When asked the reasons for this change by Elections Committee members and dozens of rank-and-file members, she offered no explanation.
  • This makes it impossible for members of the elections committee to track possible irregularities in campus voting patterns day-by-day.
  • The chair of the Elections Committee, Fawn Huisman, stipulated a procedure in which there would be no count of the votes on each campus; instead, all votes are being sent to the union’s UCLA office to be counted. (The union’s headquarters are in Berkeley, so this choice of location already raises eyebrows.)
  • For every previous union election, votes have been counted on each individual campus and the results sent to statewide headquarters.
  • This is the first seriously contested election in the history of the local, since certification at UC Santa Barbara.
  • There are allegations that the same leadership team fixed the results of a previous vote. (See “Pyrrhic Victory at UC Santa Barbara: The Struggle for Labor’s New Identity.” Pp. 91-116 in Cogs in the Classroom Factory: The Changing Identity of Academic Labor, edited by D. M. Herman and J. M. Schmid. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, p. 105.)
  • There have been other, local irregularities:
    • Use of a transparent ballot box at UC Santa Barbara – one side of which remained transparent days later in the vote after it was first brought to the attention of elections officials.
    • Poll-workers who are paid staff at UC Irvine telling voters how to vote, in violation of a union rule that electioneering must take place at least 10 feet from the polls.
  • Two scenarios for vote-tampering have been suggested:
    • Top Administration Caucus members could stuff the ballot boxes and alter the voting rolls at Southern California campuses where are running the elections and have easy access to the ballot box outside of voting hours.
    • Top Administration Caucus members could replace entire sets of ballots from those campuses with “yes” votes and mix the ballots from various campuses before counting them.

In light of these concerns, we demand a campus-by-campus tally of the votestonight so that members can have faith in the results. We also demand that all Elections Committee members have full access to voting rolls and day-by-day turnout figures for every campus.

We realize these are serious allegations. Our concerns about possible fraud are just that – concerns, based on real historical patterns and current anomalies. We have just received word that members will be allowed to observe the vote count, a positive sign for transparency.

To those who would use these concerns to fuel an anti-union agenda here or elsewhere: get your sorry act out of here. We are pro-union, and we are engaged in the process of reforming our union, fighting for transparency and a real contract campaign, because teaching assistants, readers, and tutors need a democratic, creative union consisting of all of us fighting for fair treatment on the job in solidarity with students and other campus workers. We criticize officials who have misused our union, but we will not allow their misdeeds or anti-union propaganda to divide us.


Update: Each campus will be allowed one No and one Yes challenger and all union members will be permitted access to witness the ballot counting.

Counting will start 10pm or later.  Having members present will pressure union officials to be civil.  PLEASE JOIN US! @UAW UCLA office, 900 Hilgard Ave., Suite 311, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Former Berkeley Unit Chair on why to vote NO

1 Dec

(from AWaDU):

The union leadership has been attempting to scare voters into ratifying this contract, arguing that 1) if we don’t we’ll end up in impasse and 2) the economic climate is too bad to win anything more. Union members–including current and former elected officials–from around the state who know that this is not the whole truth are stepping up to say what’s really going on. Read this letter from a former unit chair from Berkeley. His letter is just one example out of countless that show that it is the standard practice of our local to keep members uninformed and to keep involvement controlled.

It’s up to us, now, to finally change this, and the first step is by voting NO on this contract and fighting for a better one!

“I realize there is some confusion around the vote this week to ratify the proposed contract. As a former member of the bargaining committee responsible for the contract, I am in a better position than most to shed some light on the issue. I have been reluctant to do so for personal reasons, and I apologize for not sending this out before the voting began.

“The year before last I became, almost accidentally, first the acting then the elected Chair of the UAW for Berkeley. I was recruited to this position and agreed to it without much understanding what it entailed. This seems to be standard MO for the current statewide leadership; after I had agreed to stand for the position it was hinted to me that nefarious and disruptive people might try to challenge me for what is, after all, an elected position. As it turns out, no one did, I was “elected” by all of you without you having any idea, unless you actually read all those emails full of dense and formal bureaucracy-speak that you receive on a regular basis, and the leadership avoided having to deal with anyone who might make waves.

“My position made me a member of the bargaining committee, and we prepared to negotiate a contract last year. Days before the first meeting with the University, in the midst of what was then the still-unfolding budgetary crisis, the state-wide president (do you know who your union president is? did you vote for her?) suggested we take the university’s offer of a one-year extension of the current contract with no changes at all. This was presented as fait accompli at a meeting of the committee, and we voted unanimously to accept it.

“In the aftermath of all of that, I became increasingly frustrated with how poorly the union represented its members, how shockingly little democracy was actually involved, how easily the state-wide leadership quashed any dissent, and how wholly it bought into the University’s antagonistic relationship while capitulating on a regular basis to the University’s interests. I was in the perfect position to do something about this, but I was not the individual to do it for a variety of reasons. Clearly, that is why I was put in the position to begin with. So I resigned, and as I did so, I urged various people to step in and do what I was unwilling to do. I’m not proud of all of this, but I do have the satisfaction of knowing that Berkeley’s current representatives are a force for agitation among the state-wide leadership, and I support them.

“Now, the University really is a vicious negotiator. You will note that we are only now, in the last week of November, voting on a contract, while these negotiations began last Spring and the previous contract expired at the end of September. You probably heard something about the switching of “fees” for “tuition” and whether or not that would invalidate our guaranteed fee remissions, a well-timed announcement that now puts the union in the position of touting as a win what is actually a holding of the status quo. The bargaining committee is not made up of evil people, nor are they secretly trying to shore up the UC’s bottom line at our expense; I’m sure they really believe that this is the best contract they can get. But they are tired of the process, they have been skillfully manipulated by the University, and they are actively quashing efforts to allow debate among the actual membership of the union around this contract.

“Thus you are receiving two sets of messages. One comes via the official union channels, urging you to vote Yes on the contract. The other comes from your actual campus union representatives, who are members of the bargaining committee but who refused to sign the provisional contract and are urging you to vote No.

“If you vote Yes, you will see virtually no changes. You will get a 2% raise, which — I assume you know — will not put you near what you would receive at a peer institution. If you have children in child care, your reimbursement will jump from $450 per semester to $900, from the actively insulting to the merely inadequate (full-time daycare for one child starts around $1000 per month). That’s it. No health care for dependents. No out-of-state fee remissions for international students who can never be in-state residents.

“If you vote No, the hapless committee will be back at the bargaining table and the University will have to consider the actively expressed displeasure of crucial employees. They can’t take things off the table that are already on it. They can’t roll back our wages. Since this contract gains nothing, we risk nothing by refusing it. We deserve better.

“In the short term, I urge you to vote against this contract. In the long term, I hope you will support the (re)democratization of the union and even consider getting involved.”


Letter in support of NO Vote from UC Irvine Physics Grad, Jordan Brocious

30 Nov

(from New University):

After five months of negotiations and repeated displays of bad faith from the University of California, the UAW has recommended that we, as graduate students, accept a new contract that makes no significant gains over our current contract. A substantial minority of the bargaining committee voted against this tentative agreement. We must join them in voting to reject it.

Over these past five months, the UC has engaged in systematic stalling, illegal bargaining practices, union busting and outright deceit and dishonesty. The bargaining team came down from an initial 7 percent raise demand to 5 percent, and then to 4 percent, while management moved from 1 to 2 percent. These ridiculous “compromises” — from a 7 percent pay increase to these sub-inflation wages — were made quickly and then were tabled for almost two months. With the projected inflation rate around 3 percent, this is effectively a 1 percent pay cut each year for the duration of this contract. For the UAW to accept the base offer of the UC under these conditions is appalling. Also, UC graduate student instructors and teaching assistants earn 7 percent less than their colleagues at competing institutions, while the UC Regents approved $11.5 million in additional executive increases and bonuses this year.

The e-mails sent out by the UAW Bargaining Committee highlight the gains that were made with the childcare subsidy, increasing it to $600 per quarter. We applaud this increase as a necessary service. But this extra money merely fills in a gap left from the last rounds of contract negotiations. The total cost of this increase to the UC is only $75,000 system-wide. With 12,000 Academic Student Employees, this amounts to $6.25 per person. It is laughable to think that this small concession is reason to accept the UC’s paltry wage increase.

The dissenting bargaining committee members have pointed out that what wasn’t on the contract is also important to consider. Appointment notifications can still be given after the beginning of the quarter, TA positions can be outsourced, and there is no limit on class sizes. Guaranteed affordable housing was maneuvered off the bargaining agenda by the statewide leadership, but it is something that greatly affects us in Irvine, one of the most expensive cities in the nation.

If you are an undergrad, support your TA. Tell him or her that you support a “No” vote and a livable wage. If you are a grad student, vote your conscience. Just remember: Anyone that asks you to vote “Yes” on this contract is likely employed by the UAW International. No self-respecting graduate student who has participated in bargaining meetings or has been paying attention to what is going on is going to try to convince others that this contract is the best we can get. To prove that we can get a better contract, all we have to do is show the university that we won’t settle for anything less.

Therefore, we are calling on each member to vote “No” on the contract ratification, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. We want to be clear that we are doing so as a unified gesture — not to divide and weaken the union, but to prepare the membership to fight on our behalf for better wages and working conditions. We hope that the UAW leadership views a strong “No” vote to be a sign that they have our support to demand a better contract. If they go back to the table, they will come back with a better contract. We just have to send them there!

A letter from Nick Kardahji, (History), and Jessy Lancaster, (Psychology) – UAW 2865 Campus Recording Secretaries

30 Nov

Dear Grad,

As graduate student representatives to our union bargaining team, [1]we proposed last week that debates be held at Berkeley and UCLA about the proposal for a new contract. But UAW officials never responded. Instead, [2]four UAW officials voted down another proposal on the union Elections Committee to tell members where and when your votes on the proposed contract will be counted.

What do they have to hide?

Nearly 800 of us have pledged to vote NO because of actions like these. We ask you to join us by pledging to vote NO and letting us know when you have already voted NO. You can do either by clicking here:


It is unfortunate that UAW officials did not accept our debate invitation.Mercury News [4]reported Monday, “A significant movement has emerged among the University of California’s academic student employees to not ratify the agreement.” But amid growing opposition there is also a lot of misinformation out there to clear up. One of the most important areas of confusion is what will happen when we vote down the contract.

The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has been clear – if we vote down the contract, we will return to the bargaining table and the terms of our current contract will remain in place. Further, UC cannot force us to accept a contract that is any worse than what we are voting on. That would be an Unfair Labor Practice called regressive bargaining, which is forbidden by the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) and PERB.

In other words, by voting NO, we can only do as well or better than the contract proposal that is before us. UC’s own spokesperson validated this yesterday in [5]The Daily Cal. And we have to do better. The proposed contract will not empower us to protect UC’s mission as a top research university that provides affordable education for all. It lacks what we have been demanding all along:

  • Wages that keep up with the cost of living
  • A full fee remission
  • Full childcare subsidies
  • Adequate appointment notification and security

For all these reasons, we invite you to join us in winning a stronger union and a better contract. To vote NO, you can find polling times and locations for your campus here:


Thank you for standing with us.


Nick Kardahji, History – UC Berkeley Recording Secretary for UAW Local 2865

Jessy Lancaster, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz Recording Secretary for UAW Local 2865




This message was sent by: Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, 1923 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

4 paid UAW staffers confronted at the polling table at UC Irvine

29 Nov

4 Paid and bias UAW Staffers were spotted on the Palo Verde (Graduate) Housing Bridge. Reports are that they were at the polling table and that one of them was “removed” and replaced by a less biased one.

Below, you may listen to the audio recording of the incident linked from the UC Rebel Radio Audio Archives. The louder voice at around 10:00 (and before) is the person operating the poll. He is a paid staffer, not a student. He talks at length to this graduate student about the contract, especially around 15:00, where he discusses what the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ would mean. He says things like “A ‘NO’ vote is not caring for childcare”. It is pretty fucked up.

UAW Polling Station Confrontation (UC Irvine – 11/29/10)

At 16:20 Coral (a Union polling member) tells him he is out of line.

Someone then text messages Fawn (UCI physics graduate, statewide elections committee person) to tell her this shit is fucking crazy. Someone tells Coral they want to put the recorder on the table. She then calls Fawn about this. Fawn shortly shows up to take over operating the poll.

(Update: video was not available after all, only audio recording).

Where to refuse this bullshit contract @ Berkeley

28 Nov

(from those who use it):

We’ve been talking for weeks about this no vote on a bullshit UAW contract that would not only effectively cut pay in real terms for GSIs, readers, and tutors, but would also demonstrate that the careerist bureaucrats who run the local can disregard the will of the membership without penalty.  We are here to show these functionaries that union power is rank-and-file power: we will take back our union.

The time has finally come to get out the vote.  This means that not only do we — rank-and-file members of 2865 — need you to come out and send this insult of a contract back to the bargaining table tomorrow, but we need you to bring all of your friends and colleagues out to do the same.  We know that as things stand, we have Berkeley and Santa Cruz on lock, and our comrades at Irvine are building quite the caucus as well.  However, who knows what kind of dirty shit the leadership is going to try to pull?  We didn’t expect them to call a statewide meeting just to spite rank-and-file organizers, so we need to be on guard against whatever these politicians try to pull on us.  Our best protection against this kind of authoritarian ploy is our strength in numbers.  That means that we need you and yours to come out and vote between Monday, November 29 and Thursday, December 2. Three polling stations will be open each day during that period, with two permanent locations and one roving location:

  • Monday-Thursday 8am-4pm: North Gate and Sather Gate
  • Mon 10am-2pm: Barrows Hall
  • Tues 10am-2pm: Evans Hall
  • Wed 10am-2pm: Moffitt Library
  • Thurs 10am-2pm: Kroeber Hall

Let’s send this bullshit contract back where it came from!

Union power is rank-and-file power!  UAW bureaucrats collude with management!

Are you thinking, “Alright, I’m down with rank-and-file power, but isn’t a novote effectively an anti-union vote?  That’s what I’m hearing from the union leadership.”  That is what you’re hearing from the union leadership.  Self-interested bureaucrats like local 2865 VP Daraka Larimore-Hall are feeding campus media lines like:

Members of the bargaining team that voted no on the issue weren’t present at a majority of the negotiation meetings and resurfaced in this reform movement that’s urging people to vote against the contract.  If this contract isn’t ratified, we may either resume negotiations, or the university could impose an impasse on us and we could ultimately end up with a worse contract.

Right.  This is the same logic you can hear our local’s President Christine Petit spout off to Irvine rank-and-file when she argues that in the given context — one in which our membership is the strongest in its history and undergrads and workers are mobilized in solidarity across the state — a strike is an inherently dangerous tactic.  This from union leaders?  Are they serious?  This is why we call them collaborators with management. When these fools are arguing that even a no vote is dangerous, you know something’s up.  What’s the risk?  Wecould (in the abstract) wind up with an inferior contract, Larimore-Hall tells us.Why? If management sees that membership will keep voting down this bullshit contract until they give us what we want; if they see a UC-wide strike as a viable threat instead of window dressing for a faux radical email from the UAW leadership; if they know that we won’t sell out our comrades for a few lines on our CVs like our current elected officials, then why would they be more likely to give us a subpar contract?  We already have a subpar contract, and it exists precisely because we these bureaucrats didn’t actually challenge management, let alone even attempt to engage the rank-and-file membership.

What would it look like to truly engage the membership?  Members of the bargaining team devise “actions” in the abstract and then expect them to be implemented at the drop of a hat.  At one point, they wanted grad students to bring their babies to Labor Relations and do something approximating a sit-in.  Great.  Only problem?  We don’t have a single member with a child who comes to our membership meetings.  Even worse, UAW International rep Mike Miller has (we assume jokingly) suggested on multiple occasions that membership should organize a building occupation.  Many of us already have over the course of the past year, and we’d love to see this materialize once again.  But when it comes to actually getting this off the ground, Miller conveniently disappears.  Unsurprising.  The bureaucrats always disappear when it comes to actually fighting management.  We challenge you to find an exception, and a half-assed “report card” with fake signatures doesn’t count.

So why is it so important to vote no this time around?  Does it really even matter?  We urge you to check out the following links and read up for yourself:

Wondering how the bureaucrats might respond to this campaign?  Wonder no longer. You can find a statement from the comprador elements of the bargaining team here.  Note that they tout a pay cut in real terms as “a contract without concessions” and “remarkable gains.”  Note too that they pat themselves on the back for engaging membership.  Right.  Those of us who actually go to membership meetings have only come into contact with these functionaries as they attempt to stifle the will of active members and criticize us as a small clique.  Before AWaDU existed, we were lucky to have a half dozen people show up at the monthly meetings; due to the efforts of the opposition caucus, we now have 50-70 turning out on a regular basis, with only 50 percent or so showing up every time.  In other words, far from a closed clique, we have finally begun to see a vibrant, rank-and-file based membership meetings.  At the last unofficial meeting, 75 people showed up to a barely advertised meeting, more than 2 dozen of whom had never before been to a union meeting. That’s why we scoff at these bureaucrats when they claim that they engage the membership.  Here at Those Who Use It, we’ve only come into contact with these careerists when they are patrolling our halls asking for more Jerry Brown money.  What about money for actually mobilizing the membership?  The most anti-labor Democratic gubernatorial candidate in years apparently mobilizes the membership according to these idiots.

No worries, though.  We are mobilizing rank-and-file.  If we wanted, we could easily recall some of these scumbags.  Why not go straight for Petit and Larimore-Hall?  We probably will, but one thing at a time.  So let’s get this novote off the ground and take back our union!

All power to the rank-and-file!


Letter from UAW Head Steward, Cheryl Deutsch

25 Nov

Fellow grad students and UAW Local 2865 union members,

I’m writing to tell you why I will be voting NO on the tentative agreement reached last week between our union and the UC.

I believe our current union leadership conceded to this agreement after disingenuous efforts at both organizing and bargaining. I think we can do better.

Our union has fallen prey to a number of undemocratic practices that obstruct member participation and leave us strategically vulnerable in contract negotiations. Efforts at member outreach have been superficial at best. When it came time to set priorities for this round of negotiations, for example, UCI was almost entirely left out of the loop. Those of us who have made efforts to find out more information and/or get involved have been ignored or talked down to. As you can see from the emails that the leadership occasionally deigns to send out, communication within and from the union is not easily forthcoming, while the information that does get sent out is often vague and confusing. Participation seems always already foreclosed. The sum of all these undemocratic practices is a weak union poorly positioned to win anything but a weak contract.

While the gains on childcare subsidy in the tentative agreement are a step in the right direction, its provision for a 2% annual raise is insufficient to keep pace with the increasing cost of living. (Just think about the automatic 6-7% increase in our grad student housing rent every year here in Irvine…) If ratified, this agreement will become our contract for the next three years. The union leadership never even brought to the bargaining table issues like guaranteed affordable housing (i.e. not VDC and Puerta Del Sol, the expensive private housing that we can’t reject without losing our housing guarantees…) or the issue of ‘new’ fees like the $200+ per quarter that we now pay. Putting a limit on runaway class sizes and teaching loads has never even been on the leadership’s radar.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way… Not everyone involved in bargaining was on board with this agreement: all present representatives from Berkeley and Santa Cruz objected to the agreement and refused to sign it. You can read their statement here:

They believe, like I do, that we deserve a stronger contract. This, in turn, demands a stronger union. Together, we are part of a large and growing group of union members across the state working together to build a more democratic union. We believe a NO vote on the tentative agreement will be an important first step in this direction.

Voting NO on ratification of this agreement will send our union representatives back to the bargaining table for a fresh start and a mandate to push for a strong contract that includes:

  • Wages that keep pace with the cost of living
  • A full fee remission (including that bullshit $200+ per quarter)
  • Full childcare subsidies
  • Guaranteed affordable housing
  • Adequate appointment notification and security

I encourage you to join me in voting NO on this agreement. You can pledge to do so here:

Voting will take place next week, Monday through Thursday, outside SST. There will be a union meeting on Monday, Nov 29 at 5:30pm in SBSG 3323.

Finally, you might hear rumors that a vote against this contract is a vote to go on strike. This is not true. With a NO vote, we can go back to bargaining with the UC stronger than ever.



Cheryl Deutsch
Department of Anthropology
UC Irvine