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On March 5, students at UC Santa Cruz occupied the Hahn building in an ongoing resistance to the appointment of Janet Napolitano as president of the University of California system. The occupation follows a march to Kerr Hall on February 26, when students attempted to enter the offices of UCSC's Chancellor. Support for UC workers is central to the demands of student demonstrators, and over the course of the recent protests, labor victories have been gained as the university has given into demands by Graduate Student Workers and AFSCME Workers in separate negotiations.
Student protests against Napolitano, the former head of homeland security who was involved with the deportation of over 1.5 million undocumented Americans, have been widespread across the University of California system. UCSC students protested the appointment of Napolitano during her visit to the Santa Cruz campus on October 18, and they organized their most recent demonstrations in solidarity with students at UC Berkeley, who occupied the Blum Center on February 13.
Following two major victories for workers, labor groups have expressed appreciation for the student demonstrations. On February 27, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Local 3299 announced they had reached what they called a "historic" tentative contract agreement with the University of California. On March 4, Graduate Student Workers at UC Santa Cruz announced that, after two days of discussions, management had given in to all of their demands. They say that there will be no more underpaid undergrad TAs, back pay ($6000 each) for all those who've already been in that position will be paid, there will be a serious reduction in TA workload for poorly planned Arts department classes, and a committee will be established to make recommendations for class-sizes with equal voices for labor and management.
UCSC Students Shut Down Registrar, Occupy Hahn Building | Photos | Students End Hahn Occupation | March 5-6 UCSC Hahn Occupation Statement from Autonomous Students
See Also: UCSC Graduate Student Workers Receive Demands, Cancel Strike
| As UC Continues Bad Faith Bargaining with Patient Care Workers, ULP Strike Vote Scheduled
| AFSCME 3299 Cancels Strike, Announces "Historic" Agreement for UC Service Workers
| At UCSC Rally, Students Continue to Seek Napolitano's Resignation and Justice for Workers
| UC Student Worker Justice Network Demands Fair Contract for AFSCME 3299 Workers
| UC Service Workers Announce Five Day Strike
| Janet Napolitano Visit Protested at UC Santa Cruz
Related Indybay Feature: UC Berkeley Students Occupy Blum Center
On March 1, urban farmers demonstrated at Sprouts grocery chain locations in Petaluma, Fremont, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. The farmers held banners, distributed flyers, and mic-checked messages urging customers to shop elsewhere until the chain agrees not to pave over the historic Gill Tract farm in Albany.
These actions come in the wake of similar actions throughout the week. Farmers oppose plans to develop the Gill Tract, a prime piece of agricultural land administered by UC Berkeley, which has subdivided and developed the original 104 acre plot so that only 20 acres remain. For more than fifteen years community members have been working to preserve the land for urban farming and participatory agricultural research. Sprouts “Farmers Market” is now poised to pave over that precious community resource to build another grocery store. The group organizing the action, Boycott Sprouts, is asking shoppers to patronize other stores until Sprouts backs away from the development deal.
On March 5th, the Albany City Council approved paving six acres of the Gill Tract. In response to the council's vote, Occupy the Farm has called for a rally on March 12
Read More |
Occupy the Farm rally in response to City Council decision March 12 |
“Reclaiming the Commons: Uniting for Our Shared Future” will take place on Friday, March 7
from 6 – 8:30 PM at UC Santa Cruz. From food and water to media and education, how can we reclaim the commons in our communities? This event will feature a keynote address from City Repair Project
founder Mark Lakeman, a free vegetarian dinner, and World Cafe style conversation about possibilities for public placemaking and reclaiming the commons in Santa Cruz.
City Repair is an organized group action that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live. City Repair began in Portland, Oregon with the idea that localization - of culture, of economy, of decision-making - is a necessary foundation of sustainability. By reclaiming urban spaces to create community-oriented places, we plant the seeds for greater neighborhood communication, empower our communities and nurture our local culture.
On February 13, UC Berkeley students took over the Blum Center in protest of the appointment of Janet Napolitano as President of the UC system, as well as the UC regents privatization of California higher education. The day began with a rally and march to mark the arrival of Napolitano, with the march ending at the Blum Center, where students occupied the building and remained in protest of both Richard Blum as regent and Napolitano as president.
Students say Richard Blum, the primary funder and namesake of the Blum Center, represents and acts as a driving force of privatization and reorganization of the University of California system. As an investment banker, Blum profits from the fact that the UC is no longer funded primarily through the federal government. Students also claim UC regent Richard Blum was central in proposing Janet Napolitano as UC president. They say that although the Regents state that this was done through a headhunting agency, Blum was instrumental in making the final decision.
"We conclude that central decisions for filling the highest-ranking positions in the UC system continue to be made by those who stand to profit from privatization," demonstrators wrote in the Blum Center Takeover Manifesto. "Blum’s interest in keeping a business-as-usual that allows for massive profits for companies to which he has ties indicates Napolitano’s appointment as a means to continue this process of implementing policies of social control during her time in the Department of Homeland Security."
Occupiers left the building of their own accord the following day.
Read More |
12:02 am: Cops with batons are at the UCB Blum hall occupation |
Occupation of UCB's Blum Center ended at 4:30 pm today
Previous Coverage: Immigrant Youth, Students, & Workers Protest Napalitano Appointment at UC Regents Meeting
Robin Moore / Save Upper Campus writes:
We're bombarded daily with slogans and images promoting conservation, urging us to be green, and informing us of UC Santa Cruz's leadership in the field of sustainability. Meanwhile, UCSC is proposing to build on 240 acres of the undeveloped Upper Campus, removing redwood forest, mixed evergreen forest, and northern maritime chaparral in order to construct new buildings, roads, and parking lots.
Students and workers at UC Santa Cruz blocked both entrances and shut the campus down in support of a University of California-wide unfair labor practices strike on November 20, called for by AFSCME 3299
. The strike was called in response to a, "coordinated campaign of illegal intimidation, coercion, and threats," against UC Patient Care and Service Workers who participated in a walk out in May over unsafe staffing levels at UC supported hospitals.
Workers represented by AFSCME include custodians, food service workers, cooks, bus drivers, licensed vocational nurses, nursing assistants, medical assistants, and techs. Joining AFSCME on the picket line in Santa Cruz were members of UAW Local 2865
, the union that represents student academic workers, as well as a variety of student groups, which included Autonomous Students UCSC and MEchA de UCSC.
Those living in on campus family housing were allowed to enter the university during the strike. Emergency vehicles were also allowed to enter, but unlike previous campus shutdowns, the police were prevented from driving through, and according to demonstrators were turned away at least once. After a 12+ hour blockade in the rain, those blocking the west entrance marched down High Street to the base of campus for a final rally.
Read More with Video and Photos | More Videos | Why We Strike: UC Lied to You | See Also: AFSCME 3299 Announces Nov 20 ULP Strike at University of California
University of California student academic workers from around the state who serve as union negotiators gathered at UC Santa Cruz to meet with UC managers during the second day of the northern California bargaining session on October 22. To bring more voices to the process, a march to the bargaining location in the Humanities building was held and the group attempted to coax managers out of hiding with a sing along.
When the large group of mostly graduate students reached the bargaining location, which was on the first floor of the building, managers were hiding on the fourth floor. They kept the crowd waiting for a short period, but did come out after the group sang a round of Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window." Management would eventually listen to testimonials from student workers and supporters who lined up to voice their concerns.
Student worker demands revolve around wages, student families, the quality of education, and social justice issues. They are members of UAW Local 2865, the union that represents more than 12,000 Academic Student Employees, readers, tutors, TAs, and others at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California. The Union gives them the power to bargain with UC management over salary, benefits, workload, grievance procedures, fair hiring processes, and other issues. University of California teaching assistants are paid about $16,970 per academic year, which they say is $3000 to $5000 less than comparable institutions.
Read More with Audio, Video, and Photos |
University of California Bargaining Testimony |
UC Student-Workers Union Local 2865 | See Also: Towards Mediocrity: Administrative Mismanagement and the Decline of UC Education
| Janet Napolitano Visit Protested at UC Santa Cruz
At the UC Regents meeting on July 18 at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus, students and workers protested the appointment of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napaolitano as the president of the UC education system because of her role in targeting immigrant youth and immigrant workers.
Protesters demanded that the UC Board of Regents reject their appointment of Napalitano to be the chancellor of UC because of her record as secretary of the Homeland Security Department in terrorizing and arresting over 1 million immigrant workers including UC students. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom who was at the meeting, defended the appointment.
In a separate press release, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865, stated, "Although Napolitano has political and managerial experience, she does not have the academic qualifications, scholarly expertise, or other experience in education that would be appropriate for heading an institution of higher learning. Napolitano’s experience at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) qualifies her to manage a security, law enforcement, or disaster management agency, but not the world’s premier public university system."
Read More with Photos | On the Recent Nomination of Janet Napolitano for UC President | Napolitano to Head University of California
On July 9, thousands marched down Market Street in San Francisco to the Department of Education to protest the privately run Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges' (ACCJC) revelation that they aim to terminate City College of San Francisco’s accreditation. Thousands of students could be cut off from this educational resource by 2014.
The ACCJC is currently under investigation by the Department of Education, following a complaint filed by the California Federation of Teachers and the AFT 2121 union, which cited the accreditation body’s violation of Federal and State laws, violation of their own policies, conflicts of interest, violation of due process and lack of transparency. “Our city, state, and federal representatives must step in immediately to reverse this outrageous announcement,” stated CCSF Student Trustee Shanell Williams.
The march on Market Street and rally at the US Department of Education was called by the AFT 2121 and the Coalition To Save City College. The pro privatization chancellor of the Community Colleges of California Brice W. Harris, who was appointed to the position by labor supported Governor Jerry Brown, has dismissed the elected CCSF board of trustees. He imposed a special trustee Robert Agrella with full powers to take over the operations of the college with no oversight by any local bodies. Agrella has a record of union busting and outsourcing of community colleges, and representing the corporateers who want to privatize public education.
Read More with Photos | More Photos: 1 | 2
See Also: Statement by the Steering Committee of the CA-AAUP on the Revocation of Accreditation of City College of San Francisco
| Save CCSF Rejects Legitimacy of ACCJC Ruling
Occupy the Farm (OTF), an assembly of East Bay activists focused on a future of food sovereignty through sustainable agriculture, continues to raise its voice against unsustainable development and for reclaiming a piece of the University of California's Gill Tract that is once again slated for commercial development. OTF aims to shed light on the fact that agricultural land for growing food is increasingly difficult to access worldwide.
The Gill Tract in Albany was first occupied in 2012, resulting in hundreds of pounds of produce being given to local communities, even after the occupation was first raided by UC police. Additionally, due to OTF pressure at the time, “natural” and organic foods retailer Whole Foods backed out of a deal with the UC and the UC transferred a portion of the Gill Tract from UC Capital Projects to the University’s Department of Natural Resources.
This year, in the space of nine days in May, occupiers again broke ground to establish an urban farm, and replanted the field twice. Each time the UC police ploughed over the seedlings. However, due to the renewed pressure from OTF, the UC has initiated negotiations for a parcel of land adjacent to the site of OTF resistance to be set aside for public use. Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology at UC, is offering his lab’s field on the north side of the Tract to the community for a participatory urban agriculture research project to demonstrate the benefits of community involvement at the Gill Tract.
Currently, Occupy the Farm is launching a pressure campaign against Sprouts Farmers Market, a supermarket chain with over 150 stores that intends to develop on the land. OTF is building its base by supporting other community actions and holding workshops centering on issues of food sovereignty.
Read More |
Occupy the Farm (OTF)
Occupy The Farms Garden In Justin Herman Plaza
Occupy the Farm Work Party & Land Occupation
A Few Words from a David Grefrath, who is currently in jail for farming
Police Raid Volunteer Farm, arrest 4, & illegally abuse UC Berkeley student
Re-Occupy The Farm!
Occupy the Farm RePlants the Gill Tract!
Four Arrests, A Tractor Sit-In, and A Destroyed Farm
Occupy The Farm Raided
Occupy The Farm RAIDED Monday, May 13, 2013
Day One Occupy The Farm 5/11/13 Albany Gill Tract Farm
Liberate the Land Party! Occupy the Farm Returns to Gill Tract
Food Security - Keep it Local, Gill Tract and beyond...
Dance Party to benefit maintaining Gill Tract as urban farmland
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Occupy the Farm Activists Reclaim Prime Urban Agricultural Land in SF Bay Area (2012)
City College of San Francisco currently faces a loss of accreditation with a March 15th deadline looming to address demands of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The ACCJC has threatened public colleges and schools but refuses to close down private charters and online operations where the rate of graduation is very low and billions of dollars are being made by the private operators. The ACCJR is also run by these same privatizers.
On February 21st, over 100 CCSF students, faculty, and supporters marched, rallied, and occupied to demand an end to the cutbacks and the privatization of the college. They called for accountability by chancellor Dr. Thelma Scott-Skillman who refused to show up. The administration building was occupied overnight by about three dozen students while waiting for the Chancellor to appear. The Chancellor did not show by morning, but when she agreed through intermediaries to meet with students on February 25th and explore their demands including regular open town hall meetings, protesters dispersed of their own accord without incident or arrest.
Students and workers gathered outside the Cowell Student Health Center on the UC Santa Cruz campus on February 13th in response to news that the UC system is planning to "exploit an Obamacare loophole" and cap student insurance coverage. The proposed plan would also increase Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) fees by 25% ($600). Rally organizers called the changes "financial mismanagement" on the part of UC administrators.
Organizers of the rally handed out crutches, walkers, and surgical masks to members of the crowd to be used as props to symbolize the effects on student health the proposals would have.
Sporadically throughout the rally, demonstrators moved slowly through the McLaughlin Drive crosswalk in front of the health center, partly to pantomime a deteriorating metaphoric health, and partly to slow vehicular traffic as a statement to the university powers that be. Traffic was never delayed for more than a minute or so, and demonstrators received a significant amount of positive feedback from bus and service vehicle drivers.
Read More with Photos | University of California Management's Backup Plans
Occupy the Farm writes
: "On Friday November 16, 2012, the University of California (UC) razed all of the publicly planted crops on the Gill Tract.
"Occupy the Farm is disappointed that the UC has unnecessarily destroyed the hard work of the community and food that could have fed it. Over the course of the last month, members of the public sowed edible winter greens together with fava beans, a popular and effective cover crop. Had the UC left these in place, the Gill Tract would have benefited from the necessary nutrient building over the course of the winter, and would have produced food for the community. The weekly distribution and harvest events could have continued that, over the course of the summer and early fall, have yielded over one ton of food from the crops planted during the occupation last Spring. This free food was distributed locally in Albany, Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland at pop-up farm stands organized by Occupy the Farm.
"However, the successes of the last seven months inspire us to continue to organize. Despite the UC police raid and the destruction of over half of the crops in May, we still managed to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of free food to the community this summer. The unprecedented public access to the Gill Tract this spring allowed thousands of Bay Area residents to finally set foot on the land and farm. In August, a successful petition for referendum was submitted against the Albany City Council approval of UC development. In September, Whole Foods cancelled its development plan with the UC entirely. The UC also announced a modest ten-year guarantee to preserve the northern piece of the land and promised a nebulous College of Natural Resources program for urban agriculture.
"Now is the time to compare our position to that of the UC, and to make it clear what we are fighting for.
"We want to see the Gill Tract preserved as farmland, in perpetuity."
Read More |
UC destroys winter greens and cover crops planted by Occupy The Farm on the Gill Tract
On August 10th, Thomas Matzat and supporters appeared before the Yolo County District Court for a pre-trial hearing. Thomas is being charged with five counts of felony vandalism, fourteen counts of misdemeanor vandalism, and one misdemeanor charge for “possessing a marking substance with the intent to commit vandalism”. At the hearing, Thomas’ pro bono legal team provided evidence that police lied about security footage used to identify him.