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.

Advertisements

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).

On the recruitment and retention of graduate students of color.

3 May

This is a repost from an article that came to our attention via UC Rebel Radio:

The Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective has recently made the Graduate Division aware of concerns that we have regarding the recruitment and retention of Chican@/Latin@ graduate students and other graduate students of color as well as the recruitment of Faculty of color and we would now like to make these concerns public.  The following are only a few of our concerns. The full letter is accessible below.

  • Recruitment and Retention of Chican@ Latin@ grad students at UCI is problematic.
  • There is a general lack of mentoring and advising from our home departments (with the exception of a few committed and overworked faculty)
  • Lack of support for our research interests which coincide with our intellectual and community commitments.
  • Recruitment of Faculty of color is also dismally low.  When they qualified candidates of color are recruited and considered, they are held to extraordinarily high standards that other candidates who are not of color are not held to.

The Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective asks that you please read and widely distribute this letter.

Thank you.

Alfredo Carlos                                          M.A. Adriana Sanchez Alexander
Co-Chair                                                      Co-Chair

Doctoral Student                                     M.F.A Student
Department of Political Science        Department of English
alfredoc@uci.edu                                    adrianaa@uci.edu
________________________________________

March 7, 2011

Dr. Frances. M. Leslie
Dean of Graduate Division
University of California, Irvine
155 C Aldrich Hall
Irvine CA, 92697

Dear Dr. Frances Leslie,

On behalf of the Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective, we are writing to bring to your attention some pressing issues and concerns regarding graduate students of color experiences in the Schools of Social Sciences, Social Ecology, Humanities, and Education.  This letter outlines several aspects of problems experienced by fellow Chicano/Latino Graduate students, and while we can only speak with confidence to our particular experiences, we acknowledge that other students of color may share similar experiences.  We therefore hope that the issues raised and suggestions offered here can be a step along the path to creating a stronger and more supportive culture of diversity within the graduate programs at UCI.

Retention

In the last three academic years, four Chicano/Latino Ph.D. students have left the School of Education, one has left the School of Social Ecology, and two the School of Social Sciences.  Also in the past two years, there have not been any new Chicano/Latino students enrolled into the Department of Political Science.  There have also only been two Chicano/Latino students in the Visual Studies program in the past five years.  While these numbers may seem small, they represent only what we are personally aware of, as we do not have access to the actual institutional data.  More to the point, however, the situation is alarming since it represents a major setback to the already underrepresented Chicano/Latino graduate student enrollment at UC Irvine and within the UC system as a whole – estimated at just 8%.  While you are certainly familiar with the statistics, we believe they bear repeating in this context.   Clearly, whether in Education, the Social Sciences, or Humanities, there is a problem with the recruitment and the retention of students of color (an issue returned to later), as well as an academic climate that is hostile to Chicano/Latino scholars, both graduate students and faculty.

The issue has become one of deep concern for our group and, as we have come together to discuss and reflect on the situation, we have identified certain commonalities in our own experiences – certain themes that we found have negatively affected our own integration into our respective doctoral programs – which perhaps point to some of the larger issues.

Advising and Mentoring

One prominent theme that has emerged is how faculty approach and interact with Chicano/Latino students.  Across departments, members in our collective have encountered the assumption on the part of some faculty members that, as graduate students of color, we are academically deficient.   As such, some members have been singled out from their peers to take remedial courses, and this after they had already been admitted and enrolled and in addition to their regular degree requirements.  Although these kinds of blind assumptions about our qualifications are disappointing, this is not so much the principal concern – and to be clear we most certainly welcome constructive suggestions to improve our skills as researchers and scholars.  We do find it problematic, however, that the process for referring students for remediation is not clearly outlined or transparent and it appears that these suggestions for improvement are not conducted systematically.

It may be partly on account of these perceived deficiencies that some faculty steer clear of advising Chicano/Latino graduate students, even when our research interests align.  We find that in the best-case scenario, there are only one or two faculty members in a department that provide guidance to Chicano/Latino graduate students.  In some cases, students have had to find outside, affiliated or part-time faculty for support.  It is less than ideal to have advisors outside of, or on the margins of our respective departments when the goal is to contribute broadly within our fields.  We also find it important to note that often times those faculty members advise students of color because they themselves are the only faculty of color in their department, and they advise us even when their research does not align with our own.  That these particular scholars bear the burden of advising most of the Chicano/Latino graduate students, while also carrying the load of advising others within the general graduate student body of their respective departments, is simply not an equitable situation.

Research Interest

We have also found that many of us have encountered problems with our specific research interests.  It is fair to say that outside of the S.T.E.M. schools many Chicano/Latino students have scholarly interests in the social, economic, and political problems that affect our communities.  Often these interests originate from our lived experiences and are the motivation behind our initial choice to engage in research.  Many of us feel that we were direct about our research interests and methodological approaches as early as our statement of purpose.  However, once we were admitted and enrolled, our academic departments failed to provide us with the support to pursue our research and methodological interests.  Often our departments expect us to change our research topics and/or methods.  While this expectation is rarely stated explicitly, it is communicated quite clearly.  Faculty show a lack of enthusiasm for our research interests, departments fail to require rigorous training in both quantitative and qualitative methods, and community-based research is vastly undervalued.  We need our departments to be accountable for providing us with the training and support to develop as scholars, recognizing the importance of our research and its potential contribution to the academy and more importantly to creating equity amongst all ethnic groups in our society.

Classroom and Professional Experiences

As noted, many of us come also from first-generation college-going and working-class backgrounds, and, as such, have intellectual and community commitments to these experiences which drive our research.  We take the motto of the School of Social Science – “Where I make a difference” – and its suggestion that our scholarship and research should have a public impact quite seriously.  For instance, some of our students are committed to helping the on-campus maintenance workers become in-sourced.  This issue itself exemplifies the hostile environment towards people of color in general within the institution as a whole.  Within our respective departments, having a public impact is explicitly de-prioritized and often outright degraded and not treated as a scholarly pursuit.

At times we have been recruited by some faculty who wish for us to help them in their research rather than seeking to help us or guide us in ours.  In these instances we have felt we have been recruited because of our ability to help faculty access information from Chicano/Latino communities rather than to help us build our skill sets.  Also, there have been specific instances when we have been advised by faculty members to access these communities, use them for our research and leave without making any kind of impact, which most of us feel is contradictory to our personal and ethical standards.  Moreover, working with some faculty members never moves beyond assisting with faculty research, and this is to the detriment of our own scholarly development.  It impacts our ability to carve out our own unique voice and to begin to make a contribution in our fields.

These kinds of issues often force us to make the choice to separate our intellectual pursuits and our community commitments.  We would like for this choice to not be necessary and for there to be some recognition of the academic value of research pursuits that do, in fact, “make a difference.”

Recruitment

Recruitment has become a difficult issue for many of us.   We often encounter situations where our departments and faculty are more than happy to laud us as their token “diversity” students at awards ceremonies, special dinners, and during recruitment to show institutional proof that they are, in fact, a diverse department.  As a matter of fact, our departments call on us to help them attract prospective students of color to the school during recruitment.  However, this seems to be the only time our departments are actually concerned with diversity and the well being of these “diversity” graduate students.  We would love nothing more than lend our help in increasing the numbers of graduate students of color in our departments and at UCI as a whole, but we feel we are asked to falsely portray the climate for graduate students of color at UCI.

Suggestions

We are eager to get to a point to where we can recruit more students of color with confidence to UCI knowing full well that they will have the institutional, departmental and faculty support they need to be successful here.  We have some suggestions to further avoid any unnecessary attrition from the ranks of the Chicano/Latino graduate student population.

1. The Graduate Division should facilitate the creation of a network of graduate students of color.  A positive first step in this direction would be to welcome students of color to the university at a formal event annually, which we would be more than happy to collaborate in.

2. The establishment of professional development and networking workshops tailored to non-S.T.E.M graduate students of color.  While we are aware of D.E.C.A.D.E. we feel that not enough has been done to outreach or to cater these workshops to non-S.T.E.M. graduate students of color.

3. The Cota Robles Program lacks transparency in the way the program works and how funding is distributed.  We have been led to question the actual purpose of the program, considering that it is awarded despite the absence of diversity candidates, as in the case of Political Science in the previous two years.  Furthermore, those few of us who have been awarded the fellowship feel that it has not helped integrate us to the campus environment nor met our advising and mentoring needs.  While those of us who are recipients are very appreciative of the funding, which without we would not be able to continue our studies, we feel this program has room for improvement.

4. It may be helpful to have a staff person coordinate program outreach to and networking of graduate students of color who are enrolled in our respective schools.

5. As future professors who understand the demands on current faculty, we call for a method to be found to compensate or give credit to faculty who are asked to and decide to mentor larger than normal amount of grad students, who tend to be students of color.

These suggestions are merely a starting point, a way to launch the discussion on how we can begin to remedy an institutional culture that can be hostile to Chicano/Latino and other graduate students of color.  We want to be clear in that we do not seek to be coddled; what we seek is to address with clarity and purpose the current situation that undermines our scholarly pursuits and our academic integrity.  We are hopeful that we can begin a dialogue in order for these things to change and are willing to work to make the suggested changes.  It is disheartening to us that we have lost as many Chicano/Latino students as we have in the recent past, but we hope to change the climate to make UCI a more welcoming environment for graduate students of color. As such, we are requesting to meet and discuss these issues, as well as share with more detail our thoughts on how we can implement positive changes to achieve this shared goal. We look forward to meeting with you soon.  Please email us at our addresses below to notify us when you would be amenable to meet.  Thank you very much for your time.

On behalf of the members of the Chican@/Latin@ Graduate Student Collective

Sincerely,

Alfredo Carlos, M.A.        Adriana Sanchez Alexander
Co-Chair                                Co-Chair

alfredoc@uci.edu              adrianaa@uci.edu

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…

An accurate election update: Open letter to the UAW 2865 membership

3 May

An accurate election update

Open letter to the UAW 2865 membership

Dear colleagues,

I am a graduate student in Environmental Science, a current GSI in Physics and the Berkeley representative on the UAW 2865 Elections Committee. As a participant in last weekend’s vote counting in Los Angeles, I found the latest ‘Election Update’ sent to members to be inaccurate, or at least misleading. I hope to provide here some new information that you wouldn’t find in this election update or in the numerous partisan e-mails.

It is true that there were a “large number of challenges presented by candidates and their representatives on both sides of the election contest”. That was on Friday, the first day of the count. On Saturday morning, the Election Committee convened and decided that none of these challenges prevented the counting of ballots from proceeding.

The most misleading claim of Travis Knowles’ Election Update is the following: “The reason we took this action is that there was no way to properly assess the challenges being made by both sides because of the level of hostility in the crowded ballot count room on Saturday night.” There was definitely commotion and hostility in the room on Saturday night, but only after the decision to suspend the count.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the most productive phase of the whole counting process. Election Committee members, with the collaboration of challengers from both sides, counted the votes from four campuses in six hours. At that pace, Berkeley and UCLA’s ballots would have been counted in another six or seven hours. Chair Travis Knowles suggested that we take a break and reconvened at 7pm. Election Committee members and challengers waited for his return until 8pm. At his return, he made a snap motion to halt the count, and then adjourned the meeting.

Finally, I want to put on the record that the decision to suspend the count before UC Berkeley and UCLA ballots were counted was not approved by a majority of the Election Committee. (UC Merced ballots were also not counted, but only because they were never brought to the ballot count in LA.) The motion was made in haste by Chair Travis Knowles, was not discussed or debated, and was considered passed after being approved by only three out of six committee members present in the room. The member from UCLA was absent at the time of the vote. The members from Riverside, Santa Cruz and myself were blindsided and had no time to process what was happening, let alone participate in the vote. The three Election Committee members who approved this action promptly left the room, leaving the rest of us in the middle of the commotion their surprise motion had created.

As an Election Committee member who was literally left behind, I have yet to hear the real reason why the count was suspended that night, why half the committee was not consulted before taking this course of action, and why the plan set by the whole committee in the morning was not followed. If you also have questions about this, you can send them to elections@uaw2865.org . I hope that no matter what is your campus or political affiliation, your voices will be heard and you will receive answers.

Sincerely,

Philippe Marchand

Berkeley representative to the UAW 2865 Election Committee

As Workers Celebrate May Day, Union Officials Attempt to Steal Internal Leadership Election

2 May

HAPPY MAY DAY EVERYONE!!

As Workers Celebrate May Day, Union Officials Attempt to Steal
Internal Leadership Election

Grad Union Reformers Call on UAW 2865 to Count Every Vote in Union
Leadership Election

The UAW 2865 internal union Elections Committee has been conducting a
vote count since Friday, April 29th for a contentious election for the
Local’s top elected leadership. As the count proceeded, it appeared
possible that a slate of reformers, Academic Workers for a Democratic
Union (www.awdu.org) would win the election. Then, at 8 pm Saturday,
April 30, the incumbent- controlled Election Committee abruptly
decided to terminate the vote count, leaving 1500 ballots uncounted —
nearly half the ballots cast.

In a blatant effort to hold on to the power and privileges of their
high paying positions, paid union official Daraka Larimore-Hall and
his incumbent slate have tried to spin this egregious violation of UAW
election procedures. Many of the incumbent candidates are not
graduate students, including three of the incumbent candidates for top
officer positions. With the vote count, together these candidates
stand to lose the hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and
benefits they give themselves annually with graduate students’ dues
dollars.

Cheryl Deutsch, AWDU candidate for President, said, “We won’t know if
AWDU won the election until all the votes are counted, but it’s hard
to understand why else the current union administration would abandon
the vote count without having counted nearly half the ballots cast in
the election.”

All but three of the Elections Committee members abandoned all of the
election materials in the union’s LA conference room, including boxes
of more than 1500 uncounted ballots from UCLA and Berkeley union
members.

A group of more than 20 UAW 2865 member reformers and three Elections
Committee members still present left all materials in the conference
room exactly as they were when the Elections Committee abandoned the
vote count. The group then locked the conference room to preserve the
integrity of the ballots, after photographing and videotaping the room
and its contents in detail. UAW 2865 members remain at the LA office
to monitor the ballots and ensure they are not tampered with until
they can be counted.

AWDU has demanded that our UAW 2865 Elections Committee count every
vote and have called on Mr. Larimore Hall and all candidates on his
slate to join us in our demand.

###

Academic Workers for a Democratic Union was formed by graduate
students who had been actively organizing against the implementation
of budget cuts in the UC since summer 2009. We felt it inexcusable
that our union was not at the forefront of this fight for public
education–everywhere grad students were self-organizing, working with
undergraduates and other workers in the UC, but without the benefit of
support from our union.

For background on the election, and what’s at stake, please see the
following links:

http://www.dailybruin.com/index.php/article/2011/04/union_needs_internal_democracy

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_17924741

http://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2011/04/california-grad-students-seek-bottom
-union

http://www.dailycal.org/article/112993/concern_over_voting_fraud_grows_in_un
ion_elections

Read more about AWDU here: http://www.awdu.org/about

VOTE AWDU

25 Apr

Below are the voting times for UC Irvine:

TUESDAY

10a – 1p  McGaugh Hall / Soc. Sciences

1:30 – 5:30p  Reines Hall / Humanities

6-9p  Palo Verde Housing (Pedestrian Bridge)

WEDNESDAY

10a – 1p Reines Hall / Humanities

1:30 – 5:30p  Soc. Sciences / Engineering

6 – 9p  Verano Place Housing (Adobe Circle & Pereira)

THURSDAY

10a – 1p  Reines Hall / Soc. Sciences

1:30 – 5:30p McGaugh Hall / Engineering

6 – 9p  Verano Place Housing


An Open Letter to Daraka Larimore-Hall: President, UAW Local 2865

20 Apr

Dear President Larimore-Hall,

As enrolled and active graduate students in the UC system; as elected officers and members of our union, UAW Local 2865; and as candidates in our Local’s upcoming triennial elections; we are concerned about the persistently undemocratic role of paid staff in our Local and the possibility that their lack of accountability to the membership at large may jeopardize the freedom and fairness of the upcoming election.  We are concerned that several recent actions taken by yourself and these staff may violate our Local’s bylaws.

As you know, many of us have been concerned for some time about the role of paid staff in our Local and their lack of accountability to (or even communication with) Campus Unit elected officers or members. Trustee Cheryl Deutsch expressed many of these concerns in a letter to the Joint Council in January (you can read that letter here: AWDU Irvine).

A review of UAW 2865 payroll records on April 15 shows twelve staff who have been employed in field organizing positions during FY 2011.

You hired at least three of these paid staff members without the knowledge or approval of our Local’s Executive Board.  According to our Local’s bylaws, the responsibility for hiring Local Union employees falls to the Executive Board.[1]  Of course, the Executive Board only regularly meets once a month, and our bylaws also give administrative authority to the President in between meetings and votes of the Executive Board,[2] but it clearly contravenes the democratic intent of our bylaws for you not to have even informed the Executive Board of these hires.

We have further grounds for concern that at least one of these staff members is not eligible for employment in our Local.  Our bylaws are clear: hired staff must be members of the Local in continuous good standing for at least one year prior to their employment.[3]  Especially at a time when the University of California is facing historically high budget cuts, and members are suffering from the elimination of TA/GSI positions, there is no excuse for hiring non-students to do organizing work in this union of student-workers.  Sayil Camacho, who you hired in March, was neither an employee of the University of California, nor a graduate student in the UC at the time of her appointment.  As such, she was not only not a union member in continuous good standing for at least one year; in fact, she was not even eligible for membership in our union. You hired Sayil Camacho in clear breach of our Local’s bylaws.

Of further concern is the fact that these paid staff continue to work without any coordination or, often, communication with elected Campus Unit officers.  This practice is not only undemocratic and discourteous, but bad organizing as well. These organizing staff are unevenly distributed across the state.  All twelve are assigned to southern campuses, which represent just 53% of the membership; therefore calling into question the distribution of the union’s resources.  All current paid organizers should coordinate with Campus Unit officers to include our members in strengthening graduate student researchers’ and research assistants’ historic campaign to unionize.

Questions of staff accountability become more sensitive at election time, especially since nearly all of these paid staff members are running for elected office.  In fact, six out of these twelve paid staff organizers are running for either Campus Unit Chair or Executive Board offices, while four more are running for Head Steward positions.  All are running on a single partisan slate.

We are concerned that staff may be campaigning on paid union time, and that members will not know the difference.  If members and Campus Unit officers don’t know what these organizers are doing on paid time to begin with, how will we know when these organizers are on the clock and when they’re off?  Our Local’s bylaws,[4] as well as federal law,[5] prohibit the use of union resources (including paid staff time) for campaign purposes. In order to allay members’ concerns, we ask that all paid staff of our Local make public to the membership their Fair Share/“Beck” forms, tracking paid work hours, on a weekly basis and retroactive for three months.  While these staff have no obligation to provide this kind of information, we trust that they have nothing to hide and would do anything to demonstrate their commitment to the freedom and fairness of our Local’s election.

 

We are also calling into question the eligibility of one of these paid staff-candidates.  Sayil Camacho, again, is neither an employee of the University of California, nor a graduate student within the UC.  We would like to remind you that individuals who are not graduate students with the UC system are not eligible for membership in our Local, let alone as candidates for elected office.  Furthermore, less than 90 days elapsed between the time she signed a membership card and the deadline to submit acceptances for nomination in the election.  We are, of course, thrilled that individuals such as Sayil are interested in participating in our Local.  This is not a question of character but of structure: she does not meet eligibility requirements for candidacy.

We hope that you will take these concerns into consideration and make clear to the membership the role and work of paid staff members.  We look forward to working together in building a stronger, more democratic union.

Sincerely,

Robert Wood

Anne Kelly

Jordan Brocious

Ben Cox

Véronique Fortin

Cheryl Deutsch


[1] Article 21 Section 1 reads: “The Executive Board may appoint and remove non-elected Local Union employees as necessary to carry on the business of the Local Union.”

[2] Article 5 Section 4 reads: “Between meetings and votes of the Executive Board the President, in consultation with the appropriate officers and staff, shall exercise general administrative authority and shall be empowered to act on behalf of the Executive Board. All decisions taken by the President shall be subject to subsequent approval of the Joint Council or the Executive Board.”

[3] Article 21 Section 1 reads: “all service and organizing staff must be members and have been in continuous good standing for a period of one (1) year.”

[4] Article 14 Section 5 reads: “Apart from the resources described in this Article that are to be provided equally to all candidates, no other Local Union resources may be used by any candidate to campaign for Local Union office.”

[5] Section 401(g) of LMRDA requires that: “No moneys received by any labor organization by way of dues, assessment, or similar levy, and no moneys of an employer shall be contributed or applied to promotethe candidacy of any person.”

Open Letter to the Joint Council by Cheryl Deutsch (Head Steward, UC Irvine)

31 Jan

January 27, 2011

To members of the Joint Council of UAW Local 2865:

I recently learned that Coral Wheeler has been hired by our Local to work part time out of our office here in Irvine doing organizing work.  UAW staffers from other locals are also working on UCI’s campus.  The purpose of this email is to communicate my protest against the undemocratic way this work is being carried out and the way decisions are made in this union more generally.  As an elected representative on this campus, I have repeatedly expressed to Jorge (our Southern VP) and to Christine (our President) my interest in organizing efforts on this campus, including the process by which a new staffer would be hired for our office.

Coral’s position has been vacant since Audrey was let go this fall, and since shortly thereafter I have expressed my interest in being involved in the decision-making and hiring process around this position.  As recently as January 10th, I wrote to Jorge and explicitly stated my desire to be involved and informed about movement on this front.  (That email is attached below.  I never received a response.)  I can only interpret the fact that my interest and requests have been ignored as an attempt to undermine our Campus Unit.  Sending in paid staff to organize on our campus, without even contacting the Campus Unit representatives, flies in the face of any notion of democracy.  It is not only undemocratic and discourteous, but bad organizing as well.

I am happy to work with paid staff on organizing… there is nothing personal about the concerns I am raising.  Organizing has been my interest from the beginning, but I cannot work with paid staff if they refuse to share with me what work they are doing.  I would prefer that we all sat down together to strategize about campus organizing.

I am also concerned about decision-making on union resources such as local offices.  I recently learned that our Irvine office has been relocated.  Why weren’t any of our Campus Unit officers included in this decision-making process, or, at the very least, informed about this?

Given these concerns, I demand clarification on several points:

  1. The relationship between paid staff and campus unit officers should be made explicit, either informally or through a change in our Local’s bylaws.  Paid staff should be accountable to campus unit officers in the same way that statewide officers should be.
  2. Specifically, I demand clarification on Coral Wheeler’s job description: the purview of her work and responsibilities, as well as her day-to-day tasks.
  3. I also demand clarification on the work schedules and specific tasks of any other paid UAW staff doing any work on this campus.
  4. Finally, I demand clarification on the use of Local resources such as our Irvine office: Why wasn’t our membership informed about this change regarding a resource that is, ostensibly, for their benefit?  How is this office being used for the benefit of Irvine members?

In addition to my concern about the undemocratic way in which decisions are being made that affect our Campus Unit, I am also concerned about the way paid staff are representing themselves on campus.  If Coral or any other UAW staff continue to falsely represent themselves as students on this campus, I refuse to have anything to do with them.  UAW staffers who are not students should identify themselves as union organizers and nothing more.  I see no reason for them to be deceptive.  Furthermore, such conduct might be considered “unbecoming a union member” under Article 4, Section 14 of our Local’s Bylaws.

This raises one final question, which is: as I interpret our Local’s bylaws, non-students should not be eligible for membership in this Local.  This question should be taken up by our Bylaws Committee for review as soon as possible.

I wish to repeat once again that I want to be involved in Local decisions that are made about Local work to be done on this campus.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Deutsch

Head Steward
UAW Local 2865
UC Irvine