Why we are voting NO

20 Nov

Many of you have already heard that this last Tuesday, the UAW and the UC reached a tentative agreement with the UC on the contract protecting GSIs, readers and tutors working throughout the UC system.  The union has sent out an official email to members, telling us what a great contract this is and recommending that we ratify it when it comes to a vote at the end of the month.  Yet there is by no means consensus within the union about the strength of this contract: some members of the bargaining team who were present at the agreement even refused to sign it.  While this contract does make some modest gains, it is, in many ways, quite simply not good enough.  That is why rank-and-file members of UAW Local 2865 are voting NO on this contract agreement – and why we encourage you to join us in voting NO as a call for both a stronger contract and a stronger union.

Beginning last spring, members of the Berkeley unit of the union met in department and membership meetings to talk about what we needed from the new contract.  Several key demands came out of these meetings: full fee remission, a real wage increase, better childcare subsidies, improved job security, dependent health insurance.  Rank-and-file union members intervened in the bargaining process regularly during the last few months to ensure that our bargaining team knew it had the support of its members to take a strong position on these demands – that these were the things we needed and were prepared to fight for.  There is some progress toward some of these demands in the new contract.  The childcare subsidy is up to a maximum $2400/year from $900/year, and yet compared to actual costs of childcare (which are often $12,000/year or more), these gains are clearly inadequate. Most of our other demands were conceded in negotiations, including full fee remission, a real wage increase, and better appointment security.

Voting NO on the contract means, then, voting against an agreement that is weak on the core demands of union members – but it isn’t only that.  Much more than the intricacies of this or that article, the problem with this contract lies in the campaign our union has run to get it.  Aside from cryptic emails to membership that raised more questions than they answered, and a dead-on-arrival “Report Card” campaign, the union leadership chose not to use its resources to mobilize union members to fight for a strong contract, and in fact did everything they could to make it difficult for union members to organize ourselves.  The leadership is right to praise the members for “holding hundreds of departmental meetings to discuss bargaining demands and prepare to strike if needed…attending delegations to bargaining and to key administrators; participating in grade-ins and other actions highlighting our contract campaign and the struggle for quality education around the state.” What that email doesn’t tell you is that those efforts all arose from the initiative of rank-and-file members, without the support of the leadership. This is largely because they saw it as a foregone conclusion that concessions (like our pay cut “wage increase”) were inevitable given the financial state of the UC.  They entirely adopted the administration’s logic about the management of the university’s resources, rather than advocating for a prioritization of the teaching mission of the UC – and therefore of the teachers who make that mission happen.  They went into the bargaining process prepared to concede rather than fight, and so preempted union members from fighting for what we believe this contract needs to defend: both our own working conditions and the future of working and learning in the UC.

For all of these reasons, we are voting NO on the contract agreement. We are voting to send the union and the UC back to bargaining because we think we can win a better contract, and because we want the chance to fight for one.

See the tentative agreement and where it falls short.

Read an open letter from dissenting members of our bargaining team.

Learn more about what a no vote will mean.

Pledge to join us in voting NO.


7 Responses to “Why we are voting NO”


  1. All UC grads: Vote NO on a bullshit contract, 11/29-12/2 | THOSE WHO USE IT - November 20, 2010

    […] Great new post from our comrades in AWaDU, the opposition caucus in UAW 2865.  If you are a graduate student on any UC campus, you have no excuse not to be a member of the union; if you are a member of the union, you have no excuse not to read this piece.  This no vote is the single most important thing you can do as a union member this semester, short of actually striking.  As we wrote a couple of days ago, these careerist bureaucrats sold out rank-and-file members, agreeing to a contract with subinflation “raises,” amounting to a pay cut in real terms.  When confronted on the issue, Local 2865 President Christine Petit, a member (along with most of the rest of the bargaining team and e-board) of the reactionary “administration caucus,” told UC Irvine rank-and-file that members don’t care about raises, only child care.  When her interrogators pushed her, she couldn’t specify which members she was even talking about.  Of course she couldn’t. The e-board doesn’t talk to rank-and-file, and as we have demonstrated repeatedly on this blog, is actually out to quash their active organizing.  Our only weapon against these collaborators with management is our ability to mobilize for a no vote on this bullshit contract. […]

  2. All UC grads: Vote NO on a bullshit contract, 11/29-12/2 « ucgradstrike - November 21, 2010

    […] (from those who use it and AWaDU): […]

  3. Why Vote No? (via AWDU) « UCSC (Grad) Student Organizing Committee - November 22, 2010

    […] Reblogged from https://berkeleyuaw.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/why-we-are-voting-no/ […]

  4. Letter of solidarity from our comrades at CUNY | THOSE WHO USE IT - November 24, 2010

    […] labor practices.  Just the other day, the Daily Cal argued, Indeed, the UAW members in Berkeley posted a piece Saturday that outlines their opposition.  We are willing to believe that many more intricacies in […]

  5. Letter of solidarity from CUNY « ucgradstrike - November 25, 2010

    […] of New York.  Just the other day, the Daily Cal argued, Indeed, the UAW members in Berkeley posted a piece Saturday that outlines their opposition.  We are willing to believe that many more intricacies in […]

  6. Where to refuse this bullshit contract | THOSE WHO USE IT - November 28, 2010

    […] “Why We Are Voting No” by AWaDU […]

  7. Where to refuse this bullshit contract @ Berkeley « ucgradstrike - November 28, 2010

    […] “Why We Are Voting No” by AWaDU […]

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