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California | Education & Student Activism

UC Worker/Student Strike Shows the Way to Fight Back
by $
Wednesday Nov 18th, 2009 8:31 PM
Up and down the State of California, at the campuses of the University of California and the California State Universities, students and workers went on strike on November 18, 2009 to stop the privatization of our public schools and to demand a union contract for workers such as those at UC who are still working without a contract. Clearly, the labor strike is the foundation and must be extended until a union contract is won and fees abolished.
Up and down the State of California, at the campuses of the University of California and the California State Universities, students and workers went on strike on November 18, 2009 to stop the privatization of our public schools and to demand a union contract for workers such as those at UC who are still working without a contract. Clearly, the labor strike is the foundation and must be extended until a union contract is won and fees abolished.

The workers, represented by University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE), CWA 9119, are conducting a 3-day unfair labor practice strike November 18-20, 2009. Their website has a full library of information on the theft of our tax dollars by UC management and the gambling rackets known as "sports" especially professional football. It also gives constant strike updates and photos See
http://www.upte.org/

The photos are at
http://www.upte.org/photogallery/index.html

The Berkeley chapter's press release sets the scene:
http://www.upte.org/about/press/2009-11-17.pdf

The Monday Memo of November 16, 2009 gives more depth to the problem with lots of useful links at
http://www.upte.org/publication-mm/index.html
followed by links to all the previous Monday Memos.

The Labor News provides excellent updates with photos:
(1) LA Times 11/18/09 announcing that the UC Regents' Finance Committee approved the outrageous 32% fee increase to $10,000 a year for fees (not including room and board, books, transportation, clothes), with an excellent photo with one student holding a sign that states that California is #1 in prisons and #48 in education of the 50 US states. The graph also accompanying the article shows UC fees in 1979 were $746. Nobody's wages went up that much in the past 30 years. Obviously, the rich, those who make over $200,000 a year, must be taxed more with the progressive income tax to pay for a fundamental right: education. See
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/11/a-university-of-california-board-of-regents-committee-today-approved-a-series-of-controversial-increases-in-student-fees-that.html

(2) The UC Solidarity website is linked as it provides links to 6 UC campuses and all the unions at:
http://www.ucsolidarity.org/

(3) There is a link to UC President Yudoff's lucrative pay package. These university presidents are nothing more than budget managers and no one at the university should receive more than $200,000 a year in salary, plus the usual health and pension benefits everyone else receives. No housing or any other extraneous payoff should be given to anyone, including UC presidents. See
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/compensation/yudof0308.pdf

(4) There is also a proposal for other sources of funding at:
http://www.upte.org/UCBudgetAlternatives.pdf

KPFA, 94.1 FM, had various interviews at
(1) Hard Knock radio at 4 p.m. at
http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/56289

(2) Flashpoints at 5 p.m. at
http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/56290
and
http://www.flashpoints.net/

(3) 6 p.m. evening news at:
http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/56292

The best were the interviews with the workingclass students who were very clear and articulate in their demand that education be free for all and that there be no compromise.

The Daily Californian newspaper, the student paper of the UC at Berkeley has excellent news and a live blog.
1. 11/18/09 news article with excellent photo:
http://www.dailycal.org/article/107563/students_workers_strike_against_fee_hikes_layoffs

2. 11/18/09 news article on 32% fee increase approval by Finance Committee of UC Regents:
http://www.dailycal.org/article/107568/regents_committee_approves_32_percent_fee_hike

3. The Daily Cal has an excellent Live Blog that keeps us updated by the minute as to what is happening at UC Berkeley at:
http://www.dailycal.org/article/107564/live_blog_three-day_strike_at_uc_berkeley_begins_t

Here are the Daily Cal's Live Blog events of November 18, 2009:
6:09 p.m.

Protesters have left the building after giving their names and information to the police, who are still not ready to comment. There were about 40 protesters in total, including students from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis. The general assembly meeting is still going on in Dwinelle.

5:34 p.m.
While police are still assessing the situation, Lieutenant Alex Yao said protesters violated regulations by occupying the building after it closed at 5 p.m.

"Our mission is to make sure when people (protest), they do so legally," he said. "At this time, they are definitely in violation of UC rules and regulations."

Marika Goodrich, a fourth year who helped organize today's protest, said the demonstration has been a success.

"We are showing this is our university, and by taking action inside a building they are showing to the university if they don't listen to us, student action will escalate," she said, adding, "There are definitely people who are committed to staying here all night."

5:14 p.m.
Police estimate 20-40 people are now occupying the building, while one protester claimed 50 people were inside. Five or six police officers are standing at the entrance.

Meanwhile, protesters outside have set up tarps on the lawn in front of the building, and are chanting, "It looks so pretty, we got tarp city."

4:55 p.m.
Around 10 protesters are now sitting inside the stairwell in the architecture and engineering building next to Sproul Hall and have hung a banner on the third floor. Some of the members of the general assembly meeting have joined them, and around 50 people are chanting outside the building.

Protesters say they chose the engineering building because it is where decisions related to capital projects are made. However, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said such decisions are in fact made in the chancellor's office, and the building merely houses the office of the associate vice chancellor of capital projects.

UCPD said they are still assessing the situation and are not yet prepared to make a statement.

There has also been talk of setting up a tent city on campus for tonight, but plans may not pan out due to an insufficient number of tents.

4:26 p.m.
Protesters decided to hold the meeting in Dwinelle Hall. Almost 100 people are present, and they are currently discussing plans for tomorrow and ways to increase participation.

3:58 p.m.
Leaders of the protest decided to continue the meeting indoors, and are now heading to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union building.

3:45 p.m.
Protesters have formed a circle in front of the building and are holding their general assembly meeting.

About 10 of the demonstrators dressed in black tried to get into California Hall, but failed. There are still periodic calls for support to occupy the building.

"If something goes down, who are they going to blame, the workers? I don't want that to happen," said Katherine Renfro, one of the rally speakers with UPTE.

3:36 p.m.
Police have just entered California Hall, which is currently surrounded by protesters.

Around 3 p.m., two workers successfully broke through picket lines and exited the building. At 3:17, five workers attempted to leave but were prevented by the crowds converging on the door and escorted back inside by police officers.

Things began to get tense as four or five protesters began advocating occupying the building, chanting, "Take down this fucking door!" Three or four other organizers tried to convince them to remain peaceful.

"We are not prepared for that kind of (violent) movement," said Ruben Canedo, a third year ethnic studies and social welfare major taking part in the protest.

This attempt to escalate action is analogous to the Sept. 24 protests, in which a small group of protesters chained the doors of Wheeler Hall shut before police removed the chains. As before, they were not supported by the rest of the group, who advocated maintaining a more "democratic" protest.

There is also concern among protesters about what will happen to undocumented students if there is police action.

"We need to be conscious of undocumented people who are not only afraid of being arrested, but being deported," Canedo said.

3:07 p.m.
10 or 15 workers managed to exit the building just as protesters were linking arms, but none were willing to comment.

3:00 p.m.
Picketers have now surrounded California Hall, the campus's main administrative building. They are locking arms around the building to block people from entering or exiting while chanting, "Whose university? Our university!"

2:54 p.m.
Lieutenant Alex Yao, on the strike:
"It seems to be pretty peaceful and as of right now we haven't had any arrests or citations in relation to the demonstration...We understand that people have concerns and those concerns need to be heard but as long as its done legally and within the university campus rules and regulations."

2:21 p.m.
Buses just left carrying supporters of the strike down to UCLA. Some protesters also marched by Berkeley High to try to muster more support, after cheering and entering Berkeley City College's main building.

2:05 p.m.
Protesters have taped butcher paper over a section of the "Thanks to Berkeley" student photo display in front of Dwinelle Hall. About 20 people are surrounding the display and outlining student's faces with markers, then drawing in caricatures with talking bubbles that say things like "I don't know where my money is going" and "UC police tasered my friend."

1:49 p.m.
ASUC Senator and UC Berkeley Noah Stern talks about the increase in fees and how it may affect enrollment for the university, including its impact on college decisions for high school seniors.

1:04 p.m.
According to Joshua Clover, a UC David professor of English literature, there are around 300 UC Davis students present at the rally. "The sense is that the University of California is huge and if we act together we can make massive changes, not just little changes, not just saving a class here or there," he said. "We believe we can change the university if the solidarity is big enough."

12:45 p.m.
Police estimate about 1,000 people are at the rally, as compared to around 5,000 on Sept. 24. About 20 police officers are monitoring the event. Some audience members shake piggy banks full of coins and carry signs that read, "A professional degree fee is like lipstick on a pig."

12:16 p.m.
Roy: "It is not business as usual when faculty are told to put up or shut up. ... Take back the state of California."

12:11 p.m.
Ananya Roy, professor of city and regional planning, speaks about "no business as usual." Before noon, students ran through Dwinelle Hall, banging on doors and yelling for students and instructors to join the rally.

12:04 p.m.
About a dozen people, all from various departments, have their faces painted to look like skulls symbolizing the "death" of public education.

11:59 a.m.
Crowds of marchers chanting, "Whose university? Our university!" converge on Upper Sproul Plaza from the north and south sections of campus.

11:52 a.m.
Strikers cheer as they move their protest to Upper Sproul Plaza.

11:38 a.m.
About 100 strikers are now marching near the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue. A ballet class of about 30 students was dancing outside of the ASUC Student Store.

10:51 a.m.
Amidst the large group of protesters gathered outside the south entrance of campus, several students crossed picket lines to attend class. Passing cars honked in support and picketers urged students to join them instead of attending class. Protesters also sent representatives to Boalt Hall School of Law and Memorial Stadium in attempts to force the stoppage of construction at those sites.

10:49 a.m.
"I'm from a low-income family so if the budget cuts and fee increases happen I won't be able to go to school here anymore," said junior Taylor Kohles, a political science and ethnic studies double major. "I think it's important to have affordable education. To do any action it takes some kind of sacrifice and in the bigger scheme of things I think its more worthwhile to participate in this."

10:41 a.m.
"There was the other strike before and I already missed class then," said junior Maria Bahlol, an economics major. "My professors didn't cancel class, but they said if over 50 percent of the class was gone they'd cancel it, otherwise there's just too much to cover. I think its a good demonstration, its not like a waste or anything."

8:40 a.m.
About 15 strikers circled around North Gate, handing out literature to passers-by, but allowed people to cross the picket lines.

8:00 a.m.
Union members began picketing near campus beginning at about 5 a.m. A group of about 40 to 50 union members and students are chanting at the picket line located on Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by LIK ROPER
Friday Nov 20th, 2009 1:20 PM
it's high to shift our focus from tuition hikes, over to stopping the war that is draining our country's finances...
by starving sutdent
Sunday Nov 22nd, 2009 4:26 PM
we have to make the protest follow the UCB president home
protest at his home Pile trash in his front yard, keep him
up all night with chanting make life hell for the whole bunch of them