The anti-budget cut movement has unfolded quickly in the past few months after a UC walkout on September 24th of 2009 served as a catalyst for the already existing but increasingly uncreative organizing around the budget cuts on universities and community colleges that’s been going on for years in California and across the country. The past years has seen a large shift from isolated local struggles that involved petitioning or the annual March On Sacramento to more concerted and united actions and tactics reaching out internationally.
The tactic of occupation had a domino effect, injecting the politics of struggle into a movement that is broadening to a larger working-class struggle against increased exploitation levied against working people because of the capitalist crisis. March 4th, the date decided by a CA Statewide Organizing Conference for a statewide strike and day of action against the cuts, has expanded to become a national day of action to defend public education. Here in California there has been a push to connect the education struggle with defense of social services like healthcare and public transit, workers fighting against layoffs and speed-ups, and struggle against the closing of homeless shelters.
This move towards a more working-class-focused struggle for education, jobs, and social services has diversified the face of the movement beyond that of the angry privileged college student who just wants classes and cheaper tuition. A more diverse face, however, is a step behind organizational unity.
Some student groups have worked to actually organize with workers on their campuses to protect jobs, ensure safe working conditions and win better wages and benefits. Democracy Insurgent, a group at the University of Washington at Seattle, has put together a zine entitled We Are All Workers on their experiences organizing with the service workers on their campus.
They closely analyze the budget cuts to universities, the methods by which the bosses on campus speed up the work of custodians and personal stories of campus workers.
The experiences in struggle detailed in the zine below should serve as a response to some who argue that our demands and resistance should stay limited solely to education. The workers on college campuses are usually subject to what students are only now experiencing as “budget cuts”: the process of preserving the rate of profit at the expense of the working class.
On March 4th it is they who must stand up tallest and yell out loudest that we are all workers, that the exploitation and oppression that we daily face at the universities, restaurants, hospitals, high schools or buses where we work will not end with a March to Sacramento or some minor reforms, but with a broader and systemic change in the organization of wealth and power.