This site is a project of Academic Workers for a Democratic Union on the Berkeley Campus. AWDU is a caucus within UAW Local 2865, the union representing all Academic Student Employees (GSIs, Readers and Tutors) in the UC system. We are rank-and-file union members who feel that the union leadership has lost sight of its mission to represent the multiple interests and points of view of student workers by failing to enable member participation in the union’s democratic structures. Our goal is to provide rank-and-file members with the information and support they need to actively engage in the decision-making processes of the union.
The caucus was formed by graduate students who had been actively organizing against the implementation of budget cuts in the UC since summer 2009. We felt it inexcusable that our union was not at the forefront of this fight for public education–everywhere grad students were self-organizing, working with undergraduates and other workers in the UC, but without the benefit of support or structure from our union. For the past year, we have been working to reinvigorate our local, doing the basic work of the union (running new ASE orientations, informing members about rights, holding membership meetings) as well as working to create a new tradition of active, rank-and-file run organization. We’ve done this through holding departmental meetings, creating effective communication networks, and organizing both for our contract negotiations and in the fight for public education. This fall, graduate students helped to organize the October 7 Day of Action to Defend Public Education through our union; something which did not happen last year.
Throughout this last round of contract negotiations we have been working to put pressure on the UC through mobilization of members. We know that the real strength of the union is not at the bargaining table, but in its members. When the union was giving up on our demands, we went en masse to bargaining sessions—making bargaining public to members for the first time in the history of our local. The UC was so frightened by this that every subsequent bargaining session had to be held in LA. On the day our contract was set to expire, we organized a Grade-In in Sproul Hall with almost 100 members and allies present. The following week, still without a contract, we went to Labor Relations with members of CUE, AFSCME, UPTE and ILWU. All of these unions came out to support this action organized not by the leadership, but by rank-and-file UAW members. Finally, when our bargaining team voted to accept a weak contract, our Berkeley representative refused to sign, because the agreement did not meet the demands of Berkeley members. This is the kind of union AWDU is working to create, not just at Berkeley but on every UC campus.
About this blog
- the efforts and opinions of the caucus
- events and news affecting our local, the UAW, and the labor movement in higher education in general, as well as events and news affecting the UC and public higher education.
- ongoing organizing efforts of our members in the union, the university, and in our communities, as well as organizing efforts of student groups and other unions in California.
- To protect the rank-and-file’s right to dissent and open debate of both union leadership and issues that affect union members at large.
- To interpret and analyze official union communication in a clear and useful way.