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With hundreds of layoffs, unfair labor negotiations between the UC and Academic Student Employees, and up to a 20% fee increase to be voted on by the UC Regents, it is necessary for UC students to mobilize and act. The following is a 3-day state-wide call to action meant to coincide with the Nov. 16-18th Regents meeting:
The Student Worker Action Team of UC Berkeley calls on all UC campuses to come to the Regents meeting on Nov. 17 in order to prevent it from happening. On Oct. 7th, an assembly of hundreds voted to shut down this meeting. If transportation to the Regents meeting is not possible, we call on campuses to follow through with local direct actions as stated above.
If you would like to coordinate with folks from UC Berkeley and don’t have any contacts here, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UC Berkeley Student Worker Action Team
The other day I saw a TV show about a high school glee club. It was imaginative and amusing entertainment, but as I looked at that fictional school with its full-time credentialed teachers, plentiful enrichment programs, a magnificent fully-equipped auditorium, and club rehearsal spaces replete with fine instruments and sophisticated electronics, I couldn’t help but think of a letter I received earlier this year from a parent whose children attend an all-Black, overwhelmingly-poor school. Here is a portion of what she wrote:
I started working on the Pen or Pencil Initiative at XXXX
High School in October, 2009. I usually go to the school
once a week to work with the students. What I found at XXXX
High School has been unbelievable.
First of all the facilities are some of the worst I have
ever seen. The bathrooms were filthy. I walked in to the
bathroom and had to immediately turn around and walk out.
The students told me that they did not use the bathrooms
because they were in such bad shape. A lot of the toilets
did not flush. Stalls are missing. Some of the sinks did
not work, or were leaking so badly that they had to
There was no hot water, and in some cases no water at all in
the bathroom so that the children could wash their hands. In
some cases, there was no toilet tissue. So I concluded that
the “students could not wash their hands or wash their
booties”. The students told me that they would “hold” it all
day or call their parents to come sign them out of school,
take them home to use the bathroom, and then bring them back
to the school. In my opinion, it is not an environment
conducive to learning and growing for high school youth. It
is rather a very thuggish environment.
For Martin Luther King Day of Service, the Pen or Pencil
students and myself led a volunteer effort to repair and
sanitize the bathrooms (I paid for this), and then have the
volunteers clean, scrub, and paint all the bathrooms at XXXX
High School. Although the bathrooms were cleaned and
repaired on MLK Day, I do not know if the school has been
able to maintain them. The staff has said that they do not
have cleaning supplies, and with no hot water, it is not
easy to keep them clean. Also, on MLK day, we attempted to
steam-clean the carpet. It too was and is filthy. However,
with no hot water and 200 volunteers we could not get much
Besides the facilities, I also discovered that the students
do not have textbooks. They have a few books in the
classroom, dated between 1984 and 1992 with most of them
torn and many pages missing, (not enough so that each child
can have one) and the students do not take any texbooks home
to do homework. My understanding is that they do not have
homework. (I personally have not seen a student with a
The students have complained to me that they want to learn
and get a good education, but they feel that they are not
being taught by the teachers. The students have expressed
regrets about not learning very much at school. They have
also complained that the teachers are absent from school at
lot, and they get sent to the gym to sit until the class
period is over.
Additionally, there are very few computers in the classrooms
or the library that work. Probably, between 3 and 5 in the
library, and maybe 8 to 12 in computer-discover class. Some
students were assigned to this class, who are now being sent
home during that class period because there are not ample
Lack of ample textbooks, lack of ample computers — how are
children to learn?
The students have told me that they do not have enough
teachers for their required courses so they must spend a lot
of time in the gym and/or in PE for 2 class periods a day.
(One ninth-grader told me that she has only 2 academic
classes a day; the other time she must spend in the gym
either in PE or just sitting in the gym. Many of the
students in the 11th and 12th grade go home between 12 and 2
every day because they do not have any classes to go to.
Some of these same children are not passing the state
required test, and almost half of the senior class is not
graduating because they have not passed the required test.
Nevertheless, they are scheduled to end their school day at
12 noon every school day.
No music, no art, no band, no foreign languages, (at one
time, no English 1, because of a long-term teacher vacancy).
They do not have study periods or library periods or
There is no in-school suspension, and children are being
suspended from school on a regular basis.
Yes, I do know that “Glee” is Hollywood fiction, but I also know that real-life schools in affluent, predominantly-white districts across the country DO have full-time credentialed teachers, clean toilets, adequate books and computers, libraries, music, art, and other enrichment programs. And that all too many urban and rural schools serving overwhelmingly nonwhite or non-affluent communities do NOT have adequate facilities, equipment, supplies, books, or computers. I stand by the principle that equal access to a quality education is a fundamental human right, a right that increasing numbers of American children are being denied. It is not enough to just protest budget-cuts and tuition-hikes if we are not at the same time forcefully demanding an end to educational inequalities that are crippling our democracy and dividing our population into the haves and have-nots of the future.
“The real safeguard of democracy is education.” ~FDR
Great job on all those that came to conference and were patient with the whole process. More then 200 folks came on Saturday (more then the April 24th Conference) and Sunday had less but still we got what we wanted to done. Now we just have to take the conference’s decisions and make all our goals and ideas happen. I think the conference showed that folks are still mobilizing against the cuts to education and public services and so we all acknowledge the importance of uniting around the struggle for quality public education and public services.
Call for UC’s to Attend the October 30-31 Mobilizing Conference Against Privatization
The beginning of this school year, the UC Administration revealed:
- Discussions of further fee hikes (up to 20% in November)
- Operation Excellence at UC Berkeley, a plan proposing 200 more worker layoffs
- 2012 Admissions Policy, which pushes underrepresented communities of color out of the UC System
- A 12% drop in Latino enrollment at UCB
- A plan to create a UC Cyber Campus
On October 7th, over 76 schools across California and the U.S. held protests and teach-ins in over 25 states and took the first step this school year to defend public education for all. At UC Berkeley, we helped organized pickets, a rally and sit-in, where 2000 students and workers rallied and marched culminating in a 4-hour sit-in which forced a response from the Chancellor.
Now is the time for us to take the second step: unity of the movement in concrete demands and actions.
Build for and participate in the Statewide Mobilizing Conference on 30th and 31st of October at SFSU!
Let’s come together to discuss, coordinate and decide our demands and our plan of action for the next period.
Don’t wait to raise your voice and take action! Everyone is an organizer!
For more information: http://defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com/
-Student Worker Action Team, UC Berkeley, 10/27/2010
Posted on September 28, 2010
Over the last school year, we’ve seen tuition increase by 32% and massive cuts to every sector of our campus from academic departments, to maintenance staffing. This is old news.
Just this semester, the Chancellor announced his intention to eliminate 200 campus faculty and staff positions, Chicano Studies and Asian American Studies as majors may disappear, and there’s been a 12% drop in Latino admissions.
Meanwhile, investigative reporter Peter Byrne has uncovered some disturbing facts about the UC Regent’s use of the UC’s investment fund. In 2003, three Regents restructured the UC’s investment fund, investing in risky financial instruments, making students and workers poorer, and making themselves richer in the process. To put it shortly:
many of these deals, while potentially lucrative, have lost significant amounts of money for UC’s retirement and endowment funds, which were worth $63 billion at the end of 2009. (These losses ultimately reduce the amount spent on education, since the endowment supports teaching activities.) And the non-transparency of these private deals enabled multiple conflicts of interest to arise without challenge.
You can rest assured knowing that every time your fees go up UC Regent Richard Blum, with his investments in for-profit private colleges, gets a little bit richer. As if to add insult to injury, at the last Regents meeting the Regents voted unanimously to cut pensions for the UC’s lowest paid workers and to increase the pensions of the UC’s 250 highest paid employees. This news comes only a few short weeks after the New York Times and other major news agencies reported that, before moving to his new mansion in Lafayette, UC President Mark Yudof racked up $70,000 worth of damages to his previous UC mansion.
As students, we are asked to take out more loans that force us into jobs we don’t like to pay off debt we can’t afford for the privilege of getting a lower quality education. We are then told to kindly shut up and move along when we voice our reasonable conclusions: that the crisis of our university is not just a lack of state funding, that UC administrators give the public little reason to believe that new funds will be used in a reasonable or just manner, and that the governance structure of the UC is fundamentally flawed.
Over the last year, tens of thousands of UC students, workers, and faculty stood up, walked out, sat-in, occupied, and disrupted business as usual, forcing the governor to restore funding to public higher education. His chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, stated “those protests on the U.C. campuses were the tipping point. Our university system is going to get the support it deserves.”
And while we await the materialization of those hollow words (the California budget is over 80 days late, the restorations are not enough, and they will come from cuts to essential social services), we again look to ourselves, the students of the U.C., as well as the workers, faculty, and community members with whom we’ve built solidarity over the last year, for the strength to change the status quo.
Administrators and legislators need to know that the current order of business cannot stand. The current order of business says that we should stay quiet and obedient, that politics is complicated, that if we vote (and just vote) everything will be better, and that it is natural to spend trillions on war, prisons, and tax breaks and little on education, jobs, and social services. The current order of business stands against direct action and movement-oriented organizing, but only a movement can offer the kind of change we seek.
This is why I urge all UC Berkeley students, faculty, workers, and community members to participate in the October 7th Walkout and Day of Action. On October 7th, we have an opportunity to make ourselves collectively heard, to organize a mass movement, and fight back against austerity cuts and the privatization of everything. But we need your help promoting October 7th. Here are a few ways you can help:
We must continue the struggle to restore the public good and we must always remember that this struggle is not about us. We are fighting this battle for our university, for the people who work in it, for the families of California with foreclosed on futures, and the children of California whose dreams we are told are too expensive to fund.
Ricardo Gomez, Undergraduate Student
Day of Action Sponsored by: the American Association of University Professors, the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), b.a.n.g lab (UCSD), Berkeley Students Against the Cuts, bridges Multicultural coalition, Cal Berkeley Democrats, California State University Employee Union-Teamsters, the Raza Caucus, the Solidarity Alliance, the Student Worker Action Team, the UC Student Association (UCSA), University Council-AFT, University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA local 9119, Veterans for Peace
Peter Byrne’s Article on UC Investments: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-09-21/article/36292?headline=The-Investors-Club-How-the-University-of-California-Regents-Spin-Public-Money-into-Private-Profit
A Statewide and National call has been made for mass protests, including rallies, walkouts, strikes, & sit-ins, against the attacks on public education and public services on October 7, 2010. Below we list the planned (so far) events for October 7.
If you would like to add a planned action click on Edit and add a Placemark to the map .
View October 7 National Day of Action in a larger map