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Bernie Sanders supports UCSC Wild Cat Strike

edit to add: https://newrepublic.com/authors/andrew-schwartz

Ultimately, as with so much else, who wins out will likely hinge less on legality than on power. “There’s a saying in the labor movement,” said Barry Eidlin, who studies labor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “There’s no such thing as an illegal strike—only an unsuccessful one.”

Even after the 2018 contract was ratified by United Auto Workers Local 2865—which has had collective bargaining rights for graduate students throughout the UC system since the 1990s—Santa Cruz graduate students worked to close the gap between their established wages and the local cost of living. They appealed the contract through the union, and pushed, unsuccessfully, to pass rent control in Santa Cruz, according to Veronica Hamilton, the UC Santa Cruz UAW unit chair. But these efforts “didn’t materialize any kind of change.”

Hamilton said members of the Graduate Student Association met with university administration throughout 2019 to convey the urgency of many grad students’ plight, but felt the administration responded with vague, non-committal “platitudes.” UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive said in a statement to The New Republic that the university has no authority to change an already agreed upon system-wide contract, and that the UC Office of the President—which manages the fiscal and business operations of the University of California system—“is best suited to talk about [the] systemwide collective bargaining agreement.” The administration acknowledged “the very real and difficult challenges” presented by the high cost of housing.

According to Hamilton, tensions escalated into the fall of 2019 as students began holding rallies for the desired “cost of living adjustment,” or “COLA,” of $1,412 monthly on top of current TA pay. Their demand was for the administration to support the wage increase without passing the expense on to students in the form of fees and tuition. Toward this end, an early stage of the strike began in December: Graduate students held a “general assembly”—big lecture hall, pizzas by the dozen—and voted to go on what they called a “grading strike,” during which participants withheld their student’s final grades from the administration. (If specific students wanted their grades posted, all they had to do was ask, Hamilton said.) In January, with the new term set to begin, many TAs decided to maintain the grading strike.

In late January, an email signed by Larive announced two new school policies to begin next fall: a need-based $2,500 annual housing supplement, as well as guaranteed funding for doctoral and MFA students (previously, some students received multiyear funding packages but they were not guaranteed as a matter of course, a spokesperson said). A response on the strikers website characterized the offer as “the bare minimum for a university that touts itself as a progressive research leader.”

The chancellor’s email also noted that punitive action was a possibility for instructors who continued to withhold grades. This led to another general assembly of more than 270 graduate students, the majority of whom indicated they favored an escalation to the teaching strike that ultimately began last Monday.

Though it has not sanctioned the strike, UAW Local 2865’s staff leadership, citing the failure of recent legislative measures to address California’s housing crisis, said in a letter to the UC Office of Labor Relations reviewed by The New Republic that “we believe the circumstances have changed to such a degree as to necessitate immediate bargaining over this important issue.” But in an open letter published on Friday, UC system President Janet Napolitano wrote that the university “will not” reopen the contract or negotiate a side-letter, a kind of supplement to the contract, with strikers. “To accede to the demands of a group of employees engaged in an unauthorized wildcat strike,” she wrote, “would undercut the very foundation of an agreement negotiated in good faith by the UAW and ratified by thousands of members across the system.”
...
Talks between grad students and the administration have been unfruitful as the strike threatens to carry into its second week. A UC Santa Cruz spokesperson told The New Republic that approximately 200 graduate students continue to withhold grades from the fall quarter. In a Friday evening email, a university administrator wrote that all students who have continued to withhold fall grades have until this Friday to submit all missing grades, to end the strike, and to fulfill their contractual obligations. Those who do not submit full grades “will not receive spring quarter appointments or will be dismissed from their spring quarter appointments,” according to the email.

The striker’s website has urged participants to hold off on submitting grades at least until a Tuesday general assembly of graduate students, and characterized the threats as a “last-ditch scare tactic, a desperate bluff.” But the possibility of losing work carried significant weight because the union contract includes a tuition waiver, without which continuing graduate studies could be prohibitively expensive for many TAs.

Still, underneath the rhetorical battles and power plays, there remains the bare facts of housing costs in Santa Cruz with no easy resolution in sight. “This is the situation: We can’t live on this salary in this town,” said Lopez. Some graduate students are already on the brink of being forced from the program for financial reasons anyways, Lopez added, “so they want to at least put up a fight.”

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The thread is open.................... feline the Bern, Cats for Bernie

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Wally's picture

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magiamma's picture

@Wally
Thanks for all your posts. Check them every day upon return from campus. Momentum seems to be increasing by the day. Heh. Dayum!!!

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Meow. Go cat go!

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

magiamma's picture

@QMS
Thanks so much for the tunz. Lol

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wendy davis's picture

and background of the UCSC strike:

Mobilize the working class to defend the grad students at University of California-Santa Cruz, Norissa Santa Cruz—SEP vice presidential candidate, 20 February 2020

"Demanding this elemental right has pit striking grad students against the entire corporate and political establishment. UC president Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and director of Homeland Security under the Obama administration, who makes a salary of $627,000, has threatened to fire hundreds of striking students if they do not go back to work. Napolitano insists that the demands of students will “undercut the very foundation of an agreement negotiated in good faith by the UAW.”

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@wendy davis Are these grad students unionized and if so why isn't there a decent contract with the university?

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magiamma's picture

@MinuteMan
UAW - this is a wildcat strike

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magiamma's picture

@wendy davis
Thanks for the link. The Empress has no clothes. Have a good one...

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Wally's picture

Bernie was full out advocating the Labor Theory of Value and Workers' Councils last night. Is there anyone here who imagined this kind of advocacy on a presidential debate stage five or so years ago?

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enhydra lutris's picture

The UC system has always needed TAs and RAs to function, but has always treated them as second class employees because of the perennial high unemployment in campus areas created by the hordes of needy students who, as a captive population, are preyed upon by all the local merchants and landlords as well. It sucks.

have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

@enhydra lutris
It’s very elucidating being up there. Very much appreciate all that they are doing and how they are doing it. Thanks for popping in. Have a good one.

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mimi's picture

I find that interesting:

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the obvious theater of Mike Bloomberg's Democratic presidential campaign, and how his massive spend is meant to pave the way for another screwing of Bernie Sanders, and a second Hillary Clinton run against Trump during a brokered convention in Milwaukee.
It refers to the article Mike Bloomberg: Trojan Horse For Clintonista Revival

But, that’s the worst possible result. Because, the most important thing to Bloomberg, Hillary and those they represent is that the illusion of choice between globalist dirtbags remains in place. This is the true face of Democracy in the U.S.

That’s the key to understanding the game he and Hillary are playing.

And once you see that for what it is there’s no unseeing it.

If Bernie sees it clearly, then he will take his Bros, extend his hand to Gabbard and run an independent campaign to split the Blue Wall and destroy these people for real.

If he doesn’t then he’s the same feckless schmuck I pegged him to be in 2016.

Either way, this is now Hillary’s nomination and Bloomberg is the latest goat on its way to her altar.

What do you think. Is that so?

PS: I forgot to say Good Morning and thanks for the Open Thread, Magiamma. So, thank you.

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Wally's picture

@mimi

Do you think even Hillary would want to taint herself with Bloomberg after last night?

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magiamma's picture

@mimi

I agree with Wally - Bloomberg failed last night. His arrogance was oozing, he was not prepared (with all his money you would think he would have had a coach, right?), he looked and more importantly, he acted like the oligarch he is. His performance only helped Bernie, I think.

Thanks for thanking me and thanks for the video.

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mimi's picture

@magiamma

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magiamma's picture

in the post above.

thanks everyone... Lol

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smiley7's picture

Bernie's on the way to California, please give him a high-five.

Warren's running to the middle, having recognized, i suppose, that she can't win over enough progressives; frankly, she exposes herself as pandering to get support which solidifies my long feelings of her that's she not really committed to progressive ideals unless they are politically expedient.

Having said this, if she gets momentum and actually pulls enough progressives from Bernie, she can do significant damage to his final delegate vote total, making for a BS convention, i worry about this so called unity candidacy.

On the other hand, if Bernie can sweep California and win in Texas, i think his numbers will be unsurmountable.

So, my friend, your work and all in California takes on even more importance and i thank you for it!

Onward.

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magiamma's picture

@smiley7
It’s gotv time now until March 3.

There is an interesting clip with Crystal Ball talking about Warren’s performance last night in Wally’s thread.

It’s all about taking delegates away fro Bernie at this point.

The more they try the harder we work.

Indeed, onward...

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dystopian's picture

good stuff and great work Magi!

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

magiamma's picture

@dystopian
Muchas gracias. It’s not over til the fat lady sings, I guess. Onward. Have a good evening...

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