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Call to all members–attend the Statewide Membership Meeting 5/21!

17 May

Dear UAW 2865 members, graduate students, and undergraduate students,

Over the last three weeks, the UAW 2865 Triennial Election galvanized thousands of us to speak out for different visions of a more democratic and effective union, in the face of massive budget cuts. But we all support empowering the entire membership to decide the future of our union.

As a first step, we have scheduled a special statewide membership meeting of the union to let all members decide where we go from here. Here are the details:

Special Statewide Membership Meeting for UAW 2865
Saturday, May 21st – 2 pm to 5 pm
Room 100, Boalt Hall – UC Berkeley

We are asking all members to help set the agenda for this meeting. If you can make it to the meeting, need a ride or a place to stay for the meeting, can offer a ride or a place to stay, or have an idea about what should be on the agenda, you can let us know here.

We will use signups at the link above to coordinate carpools, caravans, childcare, and housing for the meeting. We will also provide mileage reimbursement for travel to the statewide meeting.

The debate about the future of our union took place as thousands of teachers, students, and workers have rallied in Sacramento under the slogan “State of Emergency.” The cuts to public services and the UC system, including cuts to graduate student teaching positions, reader positions, and undergrad tutoring programs, are indeed an emergency. So we expect that high on the agenda will be stepping up the fight against increasing class sizes, fee hikes, rising housing costs, new budget cuts, and UC management’s capping of funding for fee remissions and health benefits for graduate student employees. But first and foremost, we expect to discuss proposals to make our union more bottom-up, democratic, and transparent so that we will be strong enough to win these fights. These proposals will likely include resolutions to any problems that occurred in our UAW 2865 Triennial Election, which just took place.

It inspired all of us to see thousands of you speak out about the future of our union in the Triennial Election. But it will take much more from all of us if we are going to maintain California’s university system along with our current jobs as teaching assistants, readers, and tutors.

We hope that you will join us for this statewide membership meeting as a critical next step.

In Solidarity,

Cheryl Deutsch, Anthropology – UC Irvine – UAW 2865 President
Elliot Kim, History – UC Riverside – UAW 2865 Southern Vice President
Sara Smith, Labor History – UC Santa Cruz – UAW 2865 Northern Vice President
Charlie Eaton, Sociology – UC Berkeley – UAW 2865 Finance Secretary
Mandy Cohen, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley – UAW 2865 Recording Secretary
Kyle Arnone, Sociology – UCLA – UAW 2865 Trustee
Nick Kardahji, History – UC Berkeley – UAW 2865 Trustee
Brenda Medina-Hernandez, History – UC Davis – UAW 2865 Trustee
Jordan Brocious, Physices – UC Irvine – UAW 2865 Sergeant at Arms
Blanca Misse, French – UC Berkeley – UAW 2865 Guide

Olivier Dufault, History – UC Santa Barbara
Sunny Lim, History – UC Santa Barbara
Henry Maar, Modern US History – UC Santa Barbara
Jeb Sprague, Sociology – UC Santa Barbara

Josh Brahinsky, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Erin Ellison, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz
Kelsi Evans, History – UC Santa Cruz
Michelle Glowa, Environmental Studies – UC Santa Cruz – Head Steward-Elect
Jessy Lancaster, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Recording Secretary
Brian Malone, Literature – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Unit Chair
Mark Paschal, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Jeb Purucker, Literature – UC Santa Cruz
Jeff Sanceri, History – UC Santa Cruz – Graduate Student Assembly President
Jasmine Sydullah, Politics – UC Santa Cruz
Alisun Thompson, Education – UC Santa Cruz
Mary Virginia Watson, Politics – UC Santa Cruz, Unit Chair-Elect

Muni Citrin, Communications – UC San Diego
Patrick Emmett, Religious Studies – UC Riverside – Steward

Will Clark, English – UCLA
Erin Conley, English – UCLA
Yu-ting Huang, Comparative Literature – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Renee Hudson, English – UCLA
Andrew Morgan, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Dustianne North, Social Welfare – UCLA
Alexei Nowak, Comparative Literature – UCLA
Fernando Serrano Jr, History – UCLA – UAW 2865 Steward
Jeremy Schmidt, English – UCLA – Candidate for Unit Chair
Althea Sircar, Political Science – UCLA
Zachary Williams, Political Science – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Elise Youn, Urban Planning – UCLA

Chima Anyadike-Danes, Anthropology – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Alfredo Carlos, Political Science – UC Irvine – Head Steward Elect
Leksa Chmielewski, Anthropology – UC Irvine
Ben Cox, Anthropology – UC Irvine – UAW 2865 Campus Head Steward-Elect
Véronique Fortin, Criminology – UC Irvine – UAW 2865 Head Steward-Elect
Padma Govindan, Anthropology – UC Irvine
Anne Kelly, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Seneca Lindsay, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Bron Tamulis, Political Science – UC Irvine
Robert Wood, Comparative Literature – UC Irvine – Unit Chair-Elect

Tim Gutierrez, Sociology – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Andrew Higgins, History – UC Davis – UAW 2865 Head Steward-Elect
Tom O’Donnell, History – UC Davis – Candidate for Head Steward
Nick Perrone, History – UC Davis – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Jessica Taal, Education – UC Davis – UAW 2865 Head Steward-Elect
Eran Zelnik, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect

Rachel Brahinsky, Geography – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Rob Connell, African American Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Barry Eidlin, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Katy Fox-Hodess, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Jenna Ingalls, German Literature – UC Berkeley – Steward
Pablo Gaston, Sociology, – UC Berkeley, Head Steward-Elect
Zachary Levenson, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Larisa Mann, Jurisprudence and Social Policy – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Aaron Platt, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Manuel Rosaldo, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward
Chris Schildt, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
John Stehlin, Geography – UC Berkeley
Jennifer Tucker, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Berkeley Unit Chair-Elect

Contact Us!

Berkeley – Phone: 510-849-1628 – Email: berkeley@uaw2865.org
Davis – Phone: 530-759-9097 – Email: davis@uaw2865.org
Irvine – Phone: 949-725-2953 – Email: irvine@uaw2865.org
Los Angeles – Phone: 310-208-2429 – Email: losangeles@uaw2865.org
Merced – Phone: 510-549-3863 – Email: merced@uaw2865.org
Riverside – Phone: 951-369-8075 – Email: riverside@uaw2865.org
San Diego – Phone: 858-550-0239 – Email: sandiego@uaw2865.org
Santa – Phone: 805-685-3886 – Email: santabarbara@uaw2865.org
Santa Cruz – Phone: 831-423-9737 – Email: santacruz@uaw2865.org

Election results certified

8 May

This is what democracy looks like

Sunday morning at the Sit Down–eagerly awaiting results

8 May

The count seems to be finally finishing up in LA, numbers are being reconciled and now we’re just waiting for the final challenges to be reconciled…and for the elections committee to certify the election! AWDU statewide will send out a message as soon as there are results to be publicized.

Over the last week, we know the current leadership and some USEJ candidates have been continuing to publicize attacks against the conduct of AWDU candidates and supporters during the election and at the vote count. AWDU has not been engaging in this back and forth, we want to remain focused on ensuring that our election results are tallied and the democratic will of our members is heard and respected. The accusations that USEJ are making against AWDU are serious and concerning and we are taking every opportunity to clarify and explain our position to members in person.

But there is a larger issue here, one that gets to the heart of why AWDU’s reform movement has grown so quickly and resonated with so many of our local’s members–and why democratic reform is so needed. The current leadership of our local treats dissent like a crime. In their version of solidarity and unity, disagreements, debate and discussion are seen as attacks against the union. Anyone who has been reading USEJ’s campaign emails or interacting with some of their candidates will recognize that their primary message has been one of smearing AWDU and deflecting from our criticisms of the current leadership’s practices. What the leadership has been calling intimidation or even harassment on the part of AWDU supporters we believe has simply been members trying to discuss and confront current leadership with their concerns. Disagreement and complaint cannot be constantly attacked as hostility. A huge part of AWDU’s project is working to create union spaces where members can participate, discuss and even disagree without being attacked by leadership for doing so. This campaign has only confirmed the immediate need for such reform.

Meanwhile in LA dozens of members, AWDU candidates and supporters and have been volunteering to help complete the vote count and maintain member presence there to keep the count moving forward. Here in Berkeley dozens of members from Berkeley, Davis and Santa Cruz have been sitting down in the statewide office day and night. We’ve been organizing a statewide membership meeting for May 21st, we’ve been talking with members, media and supporters, we’ve been studying together and discussing our teaching, and all of this has transformed the space of union office. Members are actually using the union office now! The sit down and the incredible efforts down in LA have given us a glimpse of what this local could look like when members are put in charge.

If you want to see the AWDU machine in action, here’s our version of Rocky Raccoon rewritten about this election, recorded late Saturday night at the sit down.

From the Sit Down in LA, tired but steadfast

6 May

Vote counting was set to resume yesterday morning at 9am–and the elections committee along with official challengers and supporters did convene. But now it’s Friday morning and still the counting of the ballots hasn’t actually begun. The entire day was spent discussing the presence of a mediator and preparing ballots to be counted. Here is an update from a UCLA AWDU activist who has been part of the sit down there since Saturday evening.

“We are very tired.

We are tired from sleeping on the office floor for the fifth night, only to make sure of the integrity of the ballots. When no attempts whatsoever had been made from either the current administrations of UAW 2865 or the candidates from USEJ (many of whom serve as current staff and leaders) to attend to the boxes, we took it upon ourselves to guard the two locked doors 24/7 because we respect the members who voted and we want their ballots to be counted.

We do not know whether counting the ballots will win us the election. Given how heavily outnumbered I was when campaigning at certain polling locations at UCLA, I personally do not think I will win a position. But this is an election, and counting the votes is what we should do. To do that, we must secure the integrity of the ballots. That is why we are doing what we are doing. We do not understand why the current leadership never made any attempt to secure the ballots. I believe they owe the voters the responsibility to secure the fairness of the ballots.

But while we struggle to do the job of the election committee neglected to do, everyday we wake up to yet another public slander on our friends from the current president of UAW 2865. They are slanders that use shiny keywords with immediate effect and little content, but they hurt, deeply.

I started the campaign talking to members on campus what we envision to be a better union. I was ecstatic to hold long conversations with students across the campus who share my concern for the budget cuts and the same devotion to our students. But four o’clock in the morning last Wednesday, the night after the first election day, I found myself writing a response to accusations of racism targeted at my slate. At noon on the same day, I found myself outside math science building, bewildered, trying to tell voters that we do not hate scientists, if ever the four canvassers from USEJ were not physically blocking me from getting near the voters. Today, I found myself reading another email from the UAW president telling me I am probably an intimidating, harrasing thug since I am an AWDU candidate.

I am five feet five, Asian, an international student, and a woman. I am indeed a humanities student, but I have taught at least 10 science students every quarter in the past 6 quarters. I never thought of emphasizing any of these things because I am not running for identity, I am running for a vision of a democratic union.

I care to win only because I think the campus deserves a more involved union. But if the strategy to win requires public slanders and personal attacks, I do not care to win enough. I refuse to dance around their accusation and provocation any longer. I have never called anybody names, and I am not about to start. I will not stop fighting for public education, and it will just be a pity if I am not able to be involved in the union.

All my friends in AWDU share the same sentiment, and I am deeply sorry for my friends whose name have been thrown about in careless accusations.”

May 4th update from the Local 2865 sit-down at the statewide office in Berkeley

5 May

This Thursday (May 5th) the vote count is supposed to recommence! All members and allies are invited to gather at 7 pm in our statewide office in Berkeley (2070 Allston, Suite 205) for a potluck dinner and (hopefully) a celebration of the completion of our election according to proper democratic procedures, and also to discuss the our strategy for how to proceed regardless of the election results.

May 4th update from the Local 2865 sit-down at the statewide office in Berkeley. We recognize that unpredictable events may take place and we will continue our sit-down throughout the day at our Berkeley office to monitor updates from the vote counting in LA. We strongly encourage union members to restrain themselves from any unilateral brash reactions to possible unpredictable events that might threaten the continuation of the vote counts. The members currently participating in the sit-down at our statewide office feel that we currently have enough media coverage and outside supporters and allies that we can wait until our membership meeting at 7pm to discuss and plan any collective action that might be required to respond to unpredictable events.

Today, Wednesday, was a calm and quiet day here at out sit-down – many members participated and dropped by during the day to share snacks, write papers or grade finals, track news reports on our struggle and continue to reach out for solidarity while we continue to await the restart of the vote count.

We also had the pleasure of receive visits in support and solidarity from Sal Rosselli, the president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), Mike Parker, UAW Local 1700 member, as well as Ellen David-Friedman from Labor Notes. We shared many thoughts and histories about labor union struggles and the current political and economic situation here in California and across the country.

Today we also saw that our struggle for union democracy received additional media coverage on the Huffington Post, the Daily Cal, the Oakland Tribune and In These Times. Also, prominent scholars continue to sign on to a letter in support and solidarity with our struggle, they are now more than 80 individuals!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/vote-counting-resumes-uc-grad-students-union_n_857600.html

http://www.dailycal.org/article/113061/vote_counting_to_resume_in_union_election

http://www.insidebayarea.com/california/ci_17985387

http://www.ucstudents.org/awdu/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/A-Call-for-the-Immediate-Resumption-of-Vote-Counts-at-UAW-2865-05.03.11-0630am.pdf

In optimistic anticipation and solidarity,

The members of the UAW Local 2865 sitting-down in Berkeley

Victory For UAW 2865 Members in Fight to Get Count Restarted!

3 May

All out! Come to the union office today at 6 to celebrate this victory for our members!

We have just learned that the elections committee of our local convened today at 12:30pm and agreed to restart the counting at 9am on Thursday (5/5)! This is a huge victory for rank-and-file members who joined or supported the sit-in at the statewide offices in Berkeley and LA and for everyone who helped with emails, media contacts, petitions and with securing support from progressive faculty and labor activists!! By drawing on the proud tradition of rank-and-file activism and direct action in the US labor movement, the tradition which built the UAW in the first place, members made clear that they would not stand by and allow themselves to be disenfranchised.

AWDU candidates and supporters look forward to the resumption of the count and will be present to help ensure it proceeds without unnecessary delays or suspensions. It has been our position all along that win or lose, AWDU is committed to an elections process that is free and fair, and that allows ordinary members to decide how their union should be run, and by whom. Given the extraordinary and outrageous circumstances in which the count was suspended, we plan to continue the sit-in until the voting process is fully complete and a certified result has been issued.

Update to members from the Sit Down and response to USEJ

3 May

Dear Fellow Students,

We are writing to you to inform you of the current state of the UAW 2865 Triennial Elections. For details on events leading up to the current situation, please see www.awdu.org.

We are currently holding an indefinite sit-down at the statewide union office (2070 Allston Way, Suite 205, Berkeley) and at our union office in Los Angeles (900 Hilgard Ave., Suite 307) where about 1,500 ballots remain sealed and uncounted. We will continue our sit-down until all votes are counted!

We welcome you to these open spaces and hope you will join us with energy and ideas for what you want to see happen! At Berkeley, we will hold two membership meetings each day, at 10AM and at 6PM, but feel free to drop by anytime!

On a conference call Monday (May 2nd) afternoon, Mike Miller, our representative to the International UAW, agreed that the neglected votes should be counted. We urged him to contact Elections Committee members to reconvene and count the remaining ballots as soon as possible. Members are waiting at this moment for the election committee to resume counting.

We have the support of fifty-plus labor scholars and faculty members. You can find their letter of support here: http://berkeleyuaw.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/a-call-for-the-immediate-resumption-of-vote-counts-at-uaw-2865-05-02-11-1100am.pdf. We also received statements of support and solidarity from ILWU representatives, the Graduate Assembly at Berkeley and the Berkeley Labor Commission. Please show your support by signing the following non-sectarian petition that calls for a resumption of the count: http://www.awdu.org/count-all-of-the-votes.

If you want details regarding the challenges to ballots as expressed in the multiple emails sent by Daraka Larimore-Hall, the incumbent president of our Local and United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ), please continue to read below. If you prefer simplicity skip this section: however, please consider signing the petition to get the count restarted.

Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a second of two dramatic emails to many UAW 2865 members on Sunday night. This time, though he continued to attack Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) with baseless charges, he framed his attack as a call for the resumption of the ballot count — which had been abandoned by his allies on Saturday, April 30 at 8pm. However, we were surprised by their demand for special conditions (diverging from normal counting procedures) before counting resumes. The union already has a procedure, laid out in the bylaws (Article 14 section 7) and the election must follow that procedure.

Vote counting is not the product of a negotiation between two slates. It is a democratic process that has bylaws and which had been agreed upon by the Elections Committee at the start of ballot counting. We have followed those rules before and we are prepared to follow those rules now. We are happy to stand together with USEJ in resuming the ballot-counting under the normal election procedures in which (most) challenges are set aside until after the count and then dealt with under procedures laid out in the bylaws and previously agreed upon.

Challenges are an expected part of the vote-counting process, and most do not, according to the bylaws, require counting to stop. But legitimate challenges must be taken seriously. Since the recent email from Daraka Larimore-Hall labels our challenges frivolous and politically motivated, we will describe exactly what our main challenges were and why they matter.

One of our most serious challenges was to an entire ballot box from UCLA in which none of the individual ballots were sealed inside any envelope at all. These are spoiled ballots according to established election procedures, and at the time of that challenge the entire election committee allowed the challenge to stand.

The challenge at UCSD was agreed on by the committee and challengers from both slates. An entire box was filled with ballots that were inside one envelope (marked “secret”), but lacking the second envelope signed by the voter. Normally, the process with such ballots is to mark them as spoiled, and this had been done previously with single ballots, but because this was felt by all to be a case of poll-worker error, the box was set aside as challenged, to be dealt with after the remaining votes were counted.

Regarding the bizarre assertion of ballot stuffing, supported only with a non-time-stamped photograph, we have identified the volunteer poll worker (not an AWDU activist) in the photograph, who was putting together the ballot box in the morning before the voting started. Here is his statement about this sordid accusation: http://www.awdu.org/statement-from-the-poll-worker-accused-of-vote-tampering.

Thank you so much for your interest and concern and please join us in insisting that unions be democratic and we count our ballots,

Jessy Lancaster, UCSC

Gustavo Oliviera, UCB

Activists within Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

Communication from the Sit Down to UAW leadership

2 May

This message was sent from the members sitting down at the statewide office of our local at 5pm today.

To the Elections Committee, the incumbent Executive Board, Regional Director Jim Wells and International Representatives Mike Miller and Ken Lang:

We are members of UAW 2865 from UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. We are writing from the statewide office of our local where members have been present since 9am. At 11:30am today more than 100 members rallied on Berkeley campus and more than 60 joined the ongoing sit down in the office to make one demand: count our votes.

We understand that the USEJ candidates and Daraka Larimore-Hall have publicly committed in an email sent Saturday night to resume the vote count, and Mike Miller has expressed his commitment to resuming the vote count as soon as possible in a call with Cheryl Deutsch and Charlie Eaton today. We are very happy to hear this commitment. From the moment that Travis Knowles, chair of the elections committee, passed an out of order motion to end the vote count and then abandon the ballots we have been waiting for the vote count to resume.

We believe that the vote count must resume immediately and we are committed to remain in our union office until the counting of the votes is finished. We find it outrageous that the elections committee left the vote count without any plan for ensuring the security of the ballots at the UCLA union office. It has been left up to the goodwill of members—the same members who are being accused of disrupting the vote count—to secure and monitor the ballots.

We take inspiration from the sit down strikes of the 1930s upon which UAW’s strength was founded that showed that the best way to enforce our rights as workers and union members is to take collective action. As union members we affirm our right to be in our union office, especially at this moment when so many members are confused, disappointed and frustrated and are seeking to discuss and coordinate our response to this shocking suspension of our democratic rights.

Of course, we also believe that the organizing and clerical staff of the local have every right to be here and continue their work given that our presence in no way impedes their work. It goes without saying that we will respect this space which after all belongs to us, the members.

We await your immediate reply affirming your commitment to restart the vote count.

Members of UAW 2865

SIT-DOWN underway in Berkeley UAW office

2 May

A letter from one member and Head Steward, explaining why she’s sitting-down at the UAW statewide office in Berkeley. Please join us NOW!

Update 1:30pm: Following the 11:30 rally on Berkeley campus more than 60 members from UC Davis, Santa Cruz and Berkeley including supporters are sitting down in the statewide office. The body voted to continue this sit down indefinitely until the vote count resumes. We call upon all members who want their votes counted to join us!

Dear friends and fellow union members.

This weekend I witnessed one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in my life. On Friday the counting of votes in our union leadership election began in LA. I drove down with other Berkeley and Santa Cruz AWDU members when we heard that all of Berkeley’s votes had been challenged (meaning they might be invalidated). We arrived in the early hours Saturday morning and were able to help count the votes for Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Barbara. by 5pm all of those campuses were almost complete–and AWDU actually seemed to be breaking even.

The elections committee called an hour recess–and three hours later came back to say that the count was suspended, the results so far calculated were certified, and the rest of the count (including all 1500+ votes from LA and Berkeley) and all of the challenges were passed on to the Joint Council–which doesn’t meet until July! The elections committee then immediately fled the building and abandoned the ballots.

All the members at LA sat down in the union office to make sure the votes were secured and to start lodging our protests with media, union officials, etc.

Late last night we drove back to Berkeley, had a meeting, and are now sitting down (in good UAW fashion) in the statewide union office until the elections committee agrees to resume the vote count. We have one demand: COUNT OUR VOTES.

We cannot let our votes be thrown out! This is exactly why we were forced to form the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union more than a year ago, though these actions are almost incomprehensible in their disregard for union democracy and members rights. Please join us at the office as soon as possible (2070 Allston Way, Suite 205) or come to the rally at Sather Gate at 11:30 and march to the office.

A call is planned at 1pm today between incumbent leadership, AWDU members, the elections committee chair and our international representative from UAW. We need to show that our members will not allow their votes to be thrown out, that the count must be finished and new leadership instated.

For more info, including our responses to the attacks that have been emailed by Daraka Larimore-Hall, see: http://www.awdu.org/ and http://berkeleyuaw.wordpress.com/
In Solidarity and struggle,


Mandy Cohen
Dept of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley
Head Steward UAW 2865-candidate for Recording Secretary
Academic Workers for a Democratic Union

50+ Labor Scholars Call for Resumption of the Vote Count

2 May

Read the letter HERE.

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