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Berkeley UAW on Tolman Occupation

28 Sep

(from ReclaimUC)

Ratified, Monday September 26, 2011
Statement of Solidarity with September 22 Actions and Arrestees:
UAW 2865, Berkeley Unit

On September 22nd, members of the UAW 2865 joined several other students, workers, faculty, and their organizations to nonviolently protest the austerity measures undermining the quality and purpose of public education at UC Berkeley and other universities around the state. Hundreds participated in a rally at Sproul Plaza and marched through campus to raise awareness of the undermining of our public institutions and reclaim education as a civil right.

Near the end of the march, participants decided to occupy and utilize empty classrooms in Tolman Hall where the Department of Education is based to hold teach-ins, documentary viewings, and general meetings open to anyone who wished to contribute. While some classrooms in Tolman Hall are still in use, the reclaimed classrooms, which once prepared future generations of educators, are now empty due to administrative and state disinvestment. We students, workers, faculty, and community members understand this neglect of space to be symptomatic of a larger crisis of priorities: upper-level administration and faculty – as well as UCPD – take increasing portions of the budget while workers are fired, overworked, and underpaid; student fees and tuitions are increased; and classroom buildings as well as departments are abandoned. Such austerity measures satisfy investors by selling off our futures, displacing educational costs onto unreasonable amounts of student debt. The university continues to grow and enhance its brand while instructional value suffers, students struggle to graduate, and staff works more for less money and job security. Students and workers transformed these derelict spaces into improvisational classrooms where people could speak critically and openly about how these changes are affecting their lives and about local, national, and international movements to restore affordable education at the center of our democracies. Documentaries were viewed. Food and water was distributed. A conversation with a student activist in Chile was organized. Teach-ins were held.

Although hundreds of students and workers entered Tolman Hall to carry out these peaceful demonstrations, they were met by the UCPD with shows of aggressive, physical force and pepper spray. Throughout the day, the presence of the UCPD militarized the situation and often escalated confrontations. Demonstrators grew increasingly frustrated as they watched one participant be beaten and seized in a hallway outside of a classroom under the pretense of fabricated charges. Around 8:50pm, the UCPD began locking down the building on peacefully chanting demonstrators without giving a dispersal order or even announcing that the building was to be closed – in contrast to the official statement made by UCPD and the UC administration. The counter-force exerted outside the building came after the police locked the doors on protesters. Ultimately, nearly all protestors inside the building were allowed to leave peacefully without receiving citations. We believe these violent, precipitous, and likely illegal actions by the UCPD to be a localized expression of broader structural tensions augmented by divisive strategies of austerity and privatization. The core mission for all members of the academic community –workers, students, faculty, and community members alike—should be the restoration of the purpose and viability of education as a public, democratic good.

The repression of students and workers cannot be tolerated!

Austerity undermining public education will not be tolerated!

As members of the UC community, we demand:

  • A complete reversal of recent fee increases.
  • A revision of current admissions policies to lift barriers faced by underrepresented students of color and working class students.
  • The re-hiring of workers fired as a result of budget cuts
  • A full investigation of the Regents’ conflicts of interest, especially their investments in banks and for-profit schools.
  • An end to UC administrative and police surveillance, violence, and intervention in political and academic activities.
  • Equal and full access to the university for undocumented students and workers.
  • The democratic control of the university by students, faculty, and staff.
  • All charges be dropped against the two individuals arrested on Sept. 22.

The UAW Local 2865, which represents academic student-workers, calls on community members and all faculty, students, workers and their organizations to join us in making these demands.

The escalation of police force against peaceful demonstrators indicates that conventional measures of protest and dialogue have been denied despite official pronouncements by UCPD and the UC administration. If faculty, students, community members, and workers cannot gather peacefully on campus to defend public education against the austerity measures imposed by the UC administration and enforced through the brutality of UCPD, we are increasingly left with no choice but to disrupt business-as-usual at the university in order to be heard.

We call on all community members, faculty, students, workers and their labor unions, associations and organizations to accelerate preparations for larger, collective actions if our demands are not met following sustained efforts of public statements, negotiation, and peaceful protests against the UC administration.

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News from the UAW Meeting @ Berkeley

21 May

We have confirmation that the body at the UAW Local 2865 Meeting @ Berkeley today voted overwhelmingly to reject the USEJ call to invalidate the recent election. If they want to keep challenging, they will have to address the UAW International President.

Also, the body voted to disqualify Sayil Camacho as Head Steward @ UCLA for violating membership and electoral procedure.

Lastly, if you would like to see the meeting yourself, check out their webcast:

http://www.uaw2865.org/

(The feed is no longer available, but we hope that in the pursuit of democracy and transparency, these keep becoming available.)

USEJ Candidate Against Further Embarrasment

21 May

This Letter is a Repost from THOSE WHO USE IT

Dear colleagues, comrades, and members of the UAW 2865,

My name is Matthew Luckett, and I am the recording secretary-elect for UCLA and a candidate for sergeant at arms in the recent UAW 2865 union election. As a member of the United for Economic and Social Justice caucus, I supported the outgoing administration’s strategic approach to bargaining, as well as the contract we’ve recently ratified. I am also proud of my slate and the campaign we ran, which I believe was mostly fair, honest, and positive, in spite of the election’s heated and divisive tone. However, I am stunned by my caucus’s decision this past weekend to reject the results of the Executive Board and Joint Council election, which we lost by several hundred votes, and to call for a new election.

Although some members of the USEJ slate have valid concerns, there is not enough evidence to justify the disenfranchisement of the thousands who voted several weeks ago and reject wholesale the results of the election. As the UCLA Graduate Students Association has pointed out, both sides are guilty of tit for tat challenges and breeches of protocol (which are inevitable, since we only run these elections once every three years, and few of us have much experience with the process). However, when all of the challenges are counted up, any suspicions of malfeasance will rightly or wrongly fall on the administration caucus, whose candidates are believed to have the most to lose. In other words, if anyone is believed to be guilty of fixing the election, it is us. Therefore, any accusations of illegality against AWDU need to meet an extremely, perhaps impossibly, heavy burden of proof in order for us to avoid being seen as sore losers. Our case needs to be airtight and above reproach, and even the GSA and the Huffington Post must be forced to admit the veracity of our claims. This particular case, however, is not convincing to me. And if I (as someone who has a lot to gain from a new election) am not convinced, then I cannot believe that public opinion will rule in its favor. If anything, I fear that public opinion will come crashing down against it.

Barring the discovery of a smoking gun that proves electoral misconduct, any effort to invalidate the election is sure to backfire. Even if the challenge is won and another election takes place, I will have serious doubts about our union’s ability to win the voters’ trust and confidence that their votes will mean something. Moreover, I will doubt our union’s ability to marshal a united front against the UC during the next round of contract negotiations. As leaders of the union, we must always put the students we serve and their interests above our own, and I am not convinced that this decision was made with those students’ interests at heart.

The first election was a positive event in the long term, even if the results weren’t what we hoped for. Over three thousand students decided to spend anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks of their time participating in a high-stakes, exciting election for the heart and soul of our union. However, the divisions between USEJ and AWDU also generated a lot of hostility and resentment, and these wounds will take time to heal. Thus, given the bad blood and conspiratorial paranoia that has existed among members of both caucuses since the election, I am afraid that a second election will destroy this union.

If our local is important enough to USEJ that they are willing to run once again through the political gauntlet, then its efforts should be devoted towards bringing our union back together. As the fight against the Board of Regent’s proposed 40% tuition hike intensifies, we must not think of ourselves as members of a particular caucus, but as workers united against budget cuts in Sacramento and TA cuts in our home departments.

Finally, on a personal note, I am tired of this election. Many of the other candidates are tired of this election. In fact, I believe that most of the candidates and the vast majority of the voters are ready to move on with their lives and begin the business of rebuilding solidarity within this union. I lost my race for sergeant at arms; it is over. I conceded defeat three weeks ago. I will not wage another campaign for a race that I feel I lost fair and square, and I am having a difficult time empathizing with anyone who is ready to kick off another round.

Thus, in light of all that we’ve been through during the last few weeks, I call on the USEJ to drop its demand for a new election and to pass the torch to AWDU. Likewise, I call on AWDU to refrain from responding to this call with any retaliatory efforts to disenfranchise any of our own voters, so that we may begin to put this election behind us once and for all. Together, we must start fighting on behalf of the rank and file members with a common purpose and a shared resolve.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In this growing hurricane of budget cuts, ballooning deficits, and corporate schemes to privatize our public universities, the union is the only shelter we have against the storm. So, rather than taking a sledgehammer to the roof, let’s all try to weather it together.

In solidarity,
Matt Luckett
UCLA Recording Secretary-elect, USEJ

Also from UCLA, a recent letter by graduates displeased with the fact that Sayil Camacho was a candidate when her eligibility status did not allow it.

AWDU Statement on Historic Win

8 May

For a copy of the UAW Report on the Election visite the UAW LOCAL 2865 webpage.

We are excited to announce that our votes have finally been counted and our reform slate has won nearly 60% of positions on our UAW 2865 union Joint Council!  The 80-member Joint Council is the highest elected body of our union with representatives from every campus.

55% of voters also cast their ballots for our Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) reform slate for the UAW 2865 Executive Board – electing our candidates to all 10 positions on the Board, including President.  The Elections Committee has certified these election results as true and fair.

The election itself and our struggle to count every vote has already transformed our union.  The debate and struggle were contentious.  But this struggle opened up a huge new space for thousands of our members to participate in deciding how to defend our interests as a union.  Turnout in the election increased to about 3,400 votes from just a few hundred votes in the last Triennial Election for the Joint Council and Executive Board.

The struggle to count the votes also deepened member involvement in our union.  Last Saturday, when three members of the election committee halted the vote count, abandoning the ballots of 1500 members regardless of their votes, UAW members spoke up.  Thousands of members wrote letters, signed petitions, and made phone calls to demand that the votes be counted.  Members organized to guard the ballots that the statewide officials abandoned in the UCLA office.  Members rallied, marched, and sat-down at the UAW statewide office.  It was an unprecedented display of member power and the result was the resumption of vote counting by the statewide officials.

Now it is time for us to bring this strength to our fight against the attacks on higher education.  As a next step, we are calling on all graduate students and undergraduate tutors – no matter who they supported in the election – to come together for a statewide membership meeting of the union on May 21st to chart the way forward.  We’ll get you more details soon.  But high on the agenda is stepping up the fight against increasing class sizes, fee hikes, rising housing costs, new budget cuts, and UC management’s capping of funding for fee remissions and health benefits for graduate student employees.

We will stand together against the attacks on higher education, in real unity borne of fruitful discussion that includes disagreement.  A grassroots, bottom-up union is strong when it provides space for open debate, and we hope that every member continues to express criticism when necessary.  We also know that many members of the USEJ slate and many USEJ supporters never wanted to stop the vote count in the first place.  We hope that the Elections Committee’s dismissal of the fabricated allegations by some of the outgoing union officers will help up us begin a more honest dialogue with each other.

The incredible diversity of our newly elected Joint Council and entire union is a vital strength that we must actively build upon.  By working together, including with the new Joint Council members from USEJ, we will win historic advances for the rights of student-workers and the expansion of public education.  We look forward to building a new kind of union together.

In Solidarity,

Molly Ball, English – UC Davis – Outgoing Campus Recording Secretary
Justin Clement, History – UC Davis – Campus Unit Chair-Elect
Tim Gutierrez, Sociology – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Brenda Medina-Hernandez, History – UC Davis – Trustee-Elect
Andrew Morgan, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Tom O’Donnell, History – UC Davis – Candidate for Head Steward
Nickolas Perrone, History – UC Davis – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Brian Riley, Education – UC Davis – Graduate Student Association Chair
Blake Ringeisen, Biological Systems Engineering – UC Davis
Jordan Scavo, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Jessica Taal, Education – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect

Chima Anyadike-Danes, Anthropology – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Jordan Brocious, Physics – UC Irvine – Sergeant-at-Arms-Elect
Ben Cox, Anthropology – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Cheryl Deutsch, Anthropology – UC Irvine – President-Elect
Anne Kelly, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Seneca Lindsey, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Nick Seaver, Anthropolgy – UC Irvine
Bron Tamulis, Political Science – UC Irvine
Natali Valdez, Anthropology – UC Irvine
Robert Wood, Comparative Literature – UC Irvine – Campus Unit Chair-Elect

Carolina Beltran, Spanish & Portuguese – UCLA
Ginny Browne, Urban Planning — UCLA
Mindy Chen, Social Welfare – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Will Clark, English – UCLA
Erin Conley, English – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Yu-ting Huang, Comparative Literature – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Renee Hudson, English – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Dan Lichtenstein-Boris, Public Health – UCLA
Dustianne North, Social Welfare – UCLA
Alexei Nowak, Comparative Literature – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Jeremy Schmidt, English – UCLA – Candidate for Unit Chair
Hadley Theodara Suter, French – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Julia Tomassetti, Sociology – UCLA – Candidate for Recording Secretary
Zachary Williams, Political Science – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Elise Youn, Urban Planning – UCLA

Chris Carlson, Mathematics – UC Riverside – Steward-Elect
Elliott Kim, History – UC Riverside – Southern Vice President-Elect

John Armenta, Communications – UC San Diego – Candidate for Campus Recording Secretary
Muni Citrin, Communications – UC San Diego
John Higgins, Literature – UC San Diego – Candidate for Campus Unit Chair
Megan Turner, Literature, UC San Diego

Olivier Dufault, History – UC Santa Barbara
Sunny Lim, History – UC Santa Barbara
Jeb Sprague, Sociology – UC Santa Barbara

Josh Brahinsky, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Erin Ellison, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz
Rachel Fabian, Ocean Studies – UC Santa Cruz
Michelle Glowa, Environmental Studies – UC Santa Cruz – Head Steward-Elect
Donald Kingsbury, Politics – UC Santa Cruz
Jessy Lancaster, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Recording Secretary
Brian Malone, Literature – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Unit Chair
Mark Paschal, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Jeb Purucker, Literature – UC Santa Cruz
Sophie Rollins, Literature – UC Santa Cruz
Jeff Sanceri, History – UC Santa Cruz – Graduate Student Assembly President
Trevor Joy Sangrey, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Sara Smith, Labor History – UC Santa Cruz – Northern Vice President-Elect
Anika Walke, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Mary Virginia Watson, Politics – UC Santa Cruz – Campus Unit Chair-Elect

Amanda Armstrong, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Matt Bonal, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley
Rachel Brahinsky, Geography – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Shane Boyle, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Dan Buch, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Chris Chen, English – UC Berkeley
Kfir Cohen, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley
Mandy Cohen, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley – Statewide Recording Secretary-Elect
Rob Connell, African-American Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Alex Dubilet, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley
Alex Dumont, English – UC Berkeley
Charlie Eaton, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Financial Secretary-Elect
Barry Eidlin, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Eli Friedman, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Pablo Gaston – Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Jessie Hock, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley
Nick Kardahji, History – UC Berkeley – Trustee-Elect
Sarah Knuth, Geography – UC Berkeley
Katy Fox-Hodess, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Zachary Levenson, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Munira Lokhandwala, Film – UC Berkeley
Katherine Maich, Sociology, Berkeley
Callie Maidhof, Anthropology – UC Berkeley
Larissa Mann, Jurisprudence & Social Policy – UC Berkeley
Daniel Marcus, Art History – UC Berkeley
Micki McCoy, History of Art – UC Berkeley — Head Steward-Elect
Blanca Missé, French – UC Berkeley – Guide Elect
Megan O’Connor, English, Berkeley
Aaron Platt, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Manuel Rosaldo, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Gustavo Oliveira, Geography – UC Berkeley
Chris Schildt, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Jessica Smith, Chemistry – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
John Stehlin, Geography – UC Berkeley
Cate Talley, French – UC Berkeley
Alex Tarr, Geography – UC Berkeley
Jennifer Tucker, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Campus Unit Chair-Elect
Daniela Urban, Law – UC Berkeley
Megan Wachspress, Jurisprudence & Social Policy – UC Berkeley – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Josh Williams, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Brandon Wolf, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley

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:

http://thosewhouseit.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/ucla-awdu-member-outs-admin-caucus-for-pattern-of-outright-dishonesty-and-manipulation/.

AWDU does the inverted Lakers dance in Los Angeles and sweeps E-Board Elections*

8 May

Well… we’re not sure about the first part of that headline, but the rumor at Those Who Use It is exactly the second part.

Huh?

CONGRATULATIONS AWDU FOR AN AWESOME CAMPAIGN!

(Now lets get to work.)

*If you want to be technical and go with the sweep theme, we guess you would also have to count the recent Giants’ sweep of the Rockies…

A letter from Yuting Huang, an AWDU supporter at UCLA.

6 May

Hi all, just some small stuff that I wrote. I am going to try to get
some sleep now.

We are very tired.

We are tired from sleeping on the office floor for the fifth night,
only to make sure of the integrity of the ballots. When no attempts
whatsoever had been made from either the current administrations of
UAW 2865 or the candidates from USEJ (many of whom serve as current
staff and leaders) to attend to the boxes, we took it upon ourselves
to guard the two locked doors 24/7 because we respect the members who
voted and we want their ballots to be counted.

We do not know whether counting the ballots will win us the election.
Given how heavily outnumbered I was when campaigning at certain
polling locations at UCLA, I personally do not think I will win a
position. But this is an election, and counting the votes is what we
should do. To do that, we must secure the integrity of the ballots.
That is why we are doing what we are doing. We do not understand why
the current leadership never made any attempt to secure the ballots. I
believe they owe the voters the responsibility to secure the fairness
of the ballots.

But while we struggle to do the job of the election committee
neglected to do, everyday we wake up to yet another public slander on
our friends from the current president of UAW 2865. They are slanders
that use shiny keywords with immediate effect and little content, but
they hurt, deeply.

I started the campaign talking to members on campus what we envision
to be a better union. I was ecstatic to hold long conversations with
students across the campus who share my concern for the budget cuts
and the same devotion to our students. But four o’clock in the morning
last Wednesday, the night after the first election day, I found myself
writing a response to accusations of racism targeted at my slate. At
noon on the same day, I found myself outside math science building,
bewildered, trying to tell voters that we do not hate scientists, if
ever the four canvassers from USEJ were not physically blocking me
from getting near the voters. Today, I found myself reading another
email from the UAW president telling me I am probably an intimidating,
harrasing thug since I am an AWDU candidate.

I am five feet five, Asian, an international student, and a woman. I
am indeed a humanities student, but I teach at least 10 science
students every quarter in the past 6 quarters. I never thought of
emphasizing any of these things because I am not running for identity,
I am running for a vision of a democratic union.

I care to win only because I think the campus deserves a more involved
union. But if the strategy to win requires public slanders and
personal attacks, I do not care to win enough. I refuse to dance
around their accusation and provocation any longer. I have never
called anybody names, and I am not about to start. I will not stop
fighting for public education, and it will just be a pity if I am not
able to be involved in the union.

All my friends in AWDU share the same sentiment, and I am deeply sorry
for my friends whose name have been thrown about in careless
accusations.

On the Cinco de Mayo Challenge

5 May

According to UAW Local 2865 Presidential candidate Daraka Larimore-Hall’s latest post/rant, the “shut[ing] down or cancel[lation]” of “balloting locations” “without notice” is sufficient grounds to invalidate the entire vote cast by the workers of an institution represented by the UAW. In other words, it is not the voter’s fault, but who cares?

The rumor is USEJ is challenging every UC Berkeley box again.

UCGRADSTRIKE hereby challenges both sides (USEJ and AWDU) to make public their challenges and reasons for challenge so that the public may understand just what kind of nonsense is really taking place inside that little room to which only a few are allowed entrance.

And, by “challenge” we do not mean to negotiate for a general statement, we want itemized lists, challenge by challenge.

Ballots will be counted!

4 May

As you may have heard, counting of the ballots will resume on Thursday, Cinco de Mayo, 2011 @ 9:00 a.m. at the UCLA UAW Union Office in downtown Westwood.

This is a victory for democracy.

(We understand that you may by now have heard from many sides regarding the events taking place at the vote counting last weekend, but we would like to direct you to what we believe is an unbiased account of the events @ UCLA’s GSA website and this other story on the newly AOL-ized Huffington Post).

The profile of the uncounted

3 May

 On top of having a very popular u-stream channel, the uncounted ballots have just set themselves up on Facebook. They have also released a flyer.

They really do want your attention…