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AFSCME strike postponed -- what's next?
AFSCME 3299's strike (planned for June 4 - 5) has been postponed indefinitely. The university administration got scared by the intense organizing and solidarity being built at our campuses. So they broke out their checkbook and hired some professional union-busters, in an attempt to divide workers from one another, and to divide AFSCME from their allies. We have to respond by becoming more united and deepening our solidarity.
UC hired the infamous anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson (a firm that boasts on their website about their expertise in avoiding unionization and busting unions). Littler Mendelson's specialty is coordinating anti-union campaigns to bust unions and stop worker movements.
Suddenly, UC Executives claimed to have new proposals for AFSCME and asked for negotiations to resume -- even though just last week they gave AFSCME their "last, best, and final proposal" (which did not come close to ending poverty wages for AFSCME workers at UC). In the eyes of a Republican-dominated state labor board (Public Employee Relations Board or PERB), these alleged new proposals were enough to overturn AFSCME's right to strike.
Under threat of legal injunctions and unfavorable rulings from PERB, AFSCME was forced to rescind their notification of intent to strike on June 4 - 5. No strike can take place in the remainder of this academic year.
The timing of UC/Littler Mendelson's maneuver was precisely calculated to hit the union hard. By forcing a postponement of the strike, they assured that no effective labor action could happen during this academic year. Their goal was to demoralize students and AFSCME allies, and to undercut the power of the striking workers themselves.
This was a cynical move to divide workers from each other (by claiming to have a new contract offer -- but only for only some classes of AFSCME workers), and workers from their allies in the university community (by forestalling any strike until students and some other workers have left campus for the summer). Clearly, the university is running scared of the unprecedented organizing and solidarity within AFSCME and between AFSCME and their allies.
What happens next?
The immediate consequences are clear. There will be no strike next week. Academic Student Employees (ASEs) who would have stayed away from campus in support of our fellow workers on strike will be expected to perform their normal work on June 4 - 5. Even if negotiations quickly return to legal impasse status, a strike probably cannot be held before summer.
AFSCME will continue to fight for a fair contract by whatever means necessary. (As always, their website is a good source of current information, as are AFSCME organizers at your campus.)
For us as ASEs, we need to deepen our solidarity with AFSCME and continue to seek creative ways to support them as we organize ourselves. Every dirty trick that UC gets away with against AFSCME is a dirty trick that they will use against us. Every UCOP scheme that AFSCME defeats is a scheme that we will know how to defeat as well.
As students and workers at UC, we have every reason to be furious with what our university has done. UC is padding the coffers of union-busting law firms rather than offering a fair contract to our fellow workers. If we let them get away with that, what will they try to get away with next time?
ASEs: get involved with QUAD! Help build solidarity with AFSCME! We won't let UC get away with this!
END POVERTY WAGES * NO CONTRACT, NO PEACE! * DIGNITY ON THE JOB
WEEK OF ACTION
UC Students and Workers Unite for a Fair Contract Now!!!
Every Day MONDAY 6/2 through THURSDAY 6/5:
3:30-5:30pm INFO PICKET @ Base of Campus
Fair Contract FRIDAY 6/6:
10am-Noon SNAKE MARCH (Starting Points @ Oakes Upper Lawn & Baytree Bookstore)
12 Noon MASS RALLY @ Baytree Bookstore
3-5pm MASS DEMONSTRATION @ Base of Campus