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No COLA, No Grades. We Will Not Submit
by UCSC Grad Students
Tuesday Dec 10th, 2019 9:15 PM
Our response to administration's latest attempt to intimidate us
sm_cola_graduate_student_strike_ucsc_uc_santa_cruz.jpg
Dear Campus Community,

Yesterday Vice Provost Quentin Williams told us that “our chancellor and interim campus provost/executive vice chancellor want to engage with you to work on your concerns,” and suggested a meeting with UAW 2865. We called a meeting at Humanities 210 at 3pm today, where UAW and GSA reps showed up to hear admins’ demands, and around 200 grads, undergrads, lecturers and faculty showed up to make noise outside.

Now, we are told that administration will not meet with us.

Let’s be clear about what this means legally. There is nothing in state or federal labor law that prevents an employer from meeting with workers in an effort to resolve a dispute while workers are in contract, even if these workers are engaging in a wildcat work stoppage. This means that the administration gave us a rare moment of honesty: it’s not that they cannot meet us; it’s that they will not meet us.

The administration is taking the position that it is legally prohibited from negotiating with its employees during a wildcat strike. This is false. An employer can always negotiate with striking workers. Relevant labor law prohibits the administration from formally recognizing an alternative union. We are not seeking recognition of a union other than UAW 2865 to act as our bargaining agent in this matter. What we are seeking, and what is not prohibited, is to present our demands in a face-to-face meeting with the administration. They will have to meet us sooner or later, and they know this. Until then, the strike goes on.

Again, administration looks to intimidate us with the illegality of the wildcat strike. Although administration is using a variety of vague threats, and has refused to explain its legal position, the potential repercussions to graduate students are limited to employment remedies - meaning, termination or docking of pay. There is no criminal liability at issue here. There are no civil monetary damages at issue. The most admin can do is take away a job that they don’t pay you enough to do, unless and until the day we get COLA. And the bottom line is this: the more we stay united and strike together, the more we prevent the administration from taking action against any one of us. It worked in West Virginia, it worked in Chicago, it worked in Oklahoma, in worked in Arizona, and it will work in Santa Cruz.

We have already responded to this contention by the administration: see our email from attorney Matt Smith, below. Every major strike you hear about in history was a wildcat. From a response to the illegal West Virginia teachers’ strikes: “At moments of mass struggle, ... legality becomes a question of a relationship of forces. If a strike has the strength, the momentum, and the support of the public at large, it is hard for the ruling elite to crack down.”

There will be intense intimidation and pressure on faculty to break this strike. The university is trying to get faculty and lecturers to do their dirty work and take up our withheld labor. They are telling them to confiscate exam books, scantrons, and papers and to cross the digital picket line. But we know our faculty are with us. We have 351 signatures on a petition circulated by faculty - and this figure is growing daily. But we don’t always have access to faculty’s emails - the work of informing faculty will often have to happen on a personal, department-by-department basis. Never fear - we have your back. Send out Faculty FAQs to your faculty, attached below.

Before tomorrow, we all have a lot of work to do.

At 8am tomorrow, we need to be outside of every lecture hall flyering and picketing and telling faculty not to cross. If there are people in your department who are on the fence about this, now is the time to get them on board. Call, text, and email everyone. Talk to your students. Call department meetings. You need to talk to undergrads, staff, and faculty. Organize your department. Continue to call press. This is happening and it’s time to expand and escalate.

This is massive. This is our movement. We need everybody. We need a COLA.

No COLA, No Grades. We Will Not Submit.

Nothing has changed; what will decide this is power. We have it. #dontsubmit

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