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The Day the University Ground to a Halt - April 14, 2005
by josh sonnenfeld
On April 14, 2005 thousands of students and workers at UC Santa Cruz shut down the campus in a coordinated statewide strike by low-paid service workers in AFSCME 3299. The strike, organized by AFSCME, clerical workers in the Coalition of University Employees (CUE), T.A.s in the United Auto Workers (UAW), students in the Student and Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ) and others, was one of the biggest actions UCSC has seen in recent years and led to a new, better contract for AFSCME workers within two weeks.
CUE, which walked out on April 14 in solidarity with AFSCME, later held their own 2-day strike, but it was after students had left for the summer and they missed out on much of the momentum. They later got a new contract, although they bargained away their right to solidarity strikes, one of the key elements that made April 14 a success. UPTE, made up of researchers, also went on strike in May of 2005, yet hadn't built a working relationship with student activists like AFSCME and CUE had, so it was not particularly successful.
April 14 was part of what The Project newspaper called "the spring insurrection" of 2005, which roughly began when students kicked military recruiters off campus on April 5 and included the night of April 18 when administrators bussed in dozens of Berkeley riot cops in a pre-planned assault on students organizing Tent University. Administrators openly acknowledge that the police response to Tent U. was an effort to reassert the control they had lost in the past weeks and send a message to the university that they wouldn't tolerate any more militant actions.
April 14 should be remembered as the day the university ground to a halt. It shows the power that students and workers have if they have concrete demands, solid strategies and a long-term vision for a united university run from the bottom up. April 14 was the result of years of organizing by the unions (particularly AFSCME), as well as students and a few profs engaged in labor solidarity. It shouldn't be seen as some spontaneous event, but as the product of the anger, empowerment, and hope that many in the community felt.
These are my previously unpublished photos and thoughts as a student organizer.
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