From Joe Klein
March 5, 2020
I wanted to write again with some updates from the ongoing strike.
Today [Thursday, March 5] was another historic day in labor history at UCSC and across the UC system. For the 18th day of the strike, hundreds of graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, staff, lecturers, and others successfully closed down UCSC’s main campus for the entire working day. Two hard picket lines were created just beyond Family Student Housing on the west side, and just beyond Faculty Housing on the east side, to ensure that our colleagues and friends would be able to get easily in and out of their homes, while other traffic easily passed out from campus at both entrances. Students hung a banner from the FSH bridge reading “EAT THE REGENTS” while east picketers were joined by a giant goose puppet (#honkforcola) on the barricade. All classes were cancelled; instead, students fed each other, held teach-ins, jumped rope, learned new dances, organized their own transportation, and made new friends, while outside of Family Student Housing, families and children came out to play in the streets. Standing together–building power and building community–strikers reminded administration who runs this campus.
Meanwhile, the entire UC system took to the streets today in solidarity with UCSC. Thousands rallied at UC Santa Barbara while UCLA and UC Berkeley are both organizing toward a full teaching strike (e.g., the Anthropology Department at UC Berkeley voted 70 to 2 to authorize a full teaching strike in support of fired UCSC anthropologists and for their own COLA campaign–UCB Anthropology’s statement here). UC Davis remains on a full grading strike, while major actions were held at UC San Diego, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine, and organizing continues at UCSF and UC Merced. In addition, the Council of UC Faculty Associations representing faculty senates across the UC system issued a statement earlier this week demanding that the university negotiate with striking graduate workers. Faculty, students, staff, and our communities have made ourselves effusively and abundantly clear: administration must negotiate.
Strikers and allies across the UC system reject an institution that would dispose of them rather than negotiate; when you fire 10% of your graduate workers, nothing can be normal. But beyond this, strikers are fighting against the cruelty that has become normalized on this campus. The COLA movement was sparked because many hundreds of graduate students and many thousands of undergraduates experience daily precarity, hunger, trauma, homelessness, and marginalization, and because this institution has consistently failed to meet its student’s basic needs. Strikers reject an institution where students skip meals and sleep in cars to make ends meet, and reject an administration that would fire them for not wanting to live that way. Together we fight for ourselves, for our friends, for the future of higher education, and for the university that we need.
Some of today’s [Thursday, March 5] action items:
- Join strikers on the picket line, beginning tomorrow at 7:30am. Please bring friends! You can also bring supplies: sunscreen, coffee, hand sanitizer, healthy food, and large containers of drinking water are always in demand.
- Teach the strike: Guide attached below!
- Donate to the strike fund to support striking grads and to provide material relief to our fired grads: gofundme.com/f/support-fund-for-striking-workers-at-ucsc Please share the strike fund with your networks!
- Faculty are encouraged to discuss moving to a full teaching strike.
- Cancel your classes and sections, and do not ask your students to cross the picket line, especially this coming Monday and Tuesday.
- Lecturers should consider holding their classes at the picket.
- Push back the dates of large assignments, or as some instructors have done, cancel them.
- Write to the administration demanding that they come to the table to work with graduate students and to rescind the decision to fire nearly 100 graduate student workers. Guides and samples available here.
- Call Gavin Newsom’s office to complain about the firing of graduate students, the extreme rent burden of graduate students, and to ask that $310 million be allocated for a UC wide COLA. Click here for contact information. For reference see the Faculty Organizing Group letter to Gavin Newsom.