Tag Archives: student worker unity

To the Budget Cut Movement: No More Ignoring State Violence

by Rebelde

The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.

Police attack people protesting the racist murder of Oscar Grant. - July 9th, 2010, Oakland

These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.

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Reflections on “the most radical university”: Santa Cruz student-worker organizing – April 14th 2005

Far rightwinger David Horowitz announced in 2007 that UC Santa Cruz was the most subversive school in America. Why? In 2005 and 2006, UCSC had a wealth of labor struggles, anti-war activity and other forms of radical activism. The Pentagon was caught spying on anti-war activists due to succesful shutdowns against military recruiters.

Labor struggles also were noticed throughout the country as AFSCME 3299, one of California’s biggest public sector unions engaged in the first ever statewide one day strike in 2005 (see Estamos Aqui film).

As activists gear up towards building for March 4, some have framed the success of the AFSCME strike simply due to it being a “mass action” and not “liberal” or “ultraleft.” The problem with such categories is it depoliticizes the actual history of the struggle and ignores a key battle that took place, the struggle against the trade-union bureaucracy and its ideology.

Student Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ) was a dynamic student group, with a few active workers (not nearly enough) that helped organize the one-day strike and debated out strategy for its success. An undergrad IWW student activist wrote a reflective analysis of the labor struggles that took place at UCSC in 2005. In it, he posits how we should understand the source of agency and the role of the trade-union bureaucracy in labor struggles. This piece should have some political use value for students and workers who are hitting themselves on the head with frustration due to the deep passivity of unions and their unwillingness to struggle against layoffs and budget cuts.

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Reflections from Two Quarters of Organizing with the SWCJ

My aim is to express some of the critical reflections and analysis I have made of the organizing I was involved in with the Student & Worker Coalition for Justice over the course of the Winter and Spring quarters of 2005. By no means did I develop the ideas and analysis I am putting forward on my own. It is an analysis I arrived at with many of my SWCJ comrades, developed mostly in informal settings and casual conversations. My intention is to spark further collective analysis and greater political definition of the organization, as well as promote the idea that the Student Worker Coalition for Justice should create formal forums for this type of activity to occur.

A Debate of Tactics or Political Definition?

Leading up to the April 14th strike a debate within the Student Worker Coalition for Justice arose. It revolved around the following question: Should the emphasis and aim of the strike be to receive positive media coverage and “shame” the university or should it’s central emphasis and aim be to shut down the school through militant mass direct action, demonstrating the real power of the workers derived from their ability to withhold their labor? Some may not remember this debate in such sharp terms, or even recognize it as a debate of two conflicting tendencies, largely, because it was masked and softened by the terms with which it was framed, and because the two sides of the debate were never in overt opposition to one another. No one ever objected to mass direct action outright, but during these discussions the advocates of mass direct action were continually asked if our actions would remain “on message” and they were met with a defeatist attitude that implied that what they advocated was fantastical. Though masked and couched in civil language, the debate did occur. It was sharpest at the Sunday, April 10th meeting held at the AFSCME office specifically to address the forms of direct action the coalition would organize. Even after we had collectively decided to engage in mass direct action this decision came into question yet again at the Tuesday, April 12th meeting at Stevenson College.

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What Could March 4th Look Like?

While we prepare to participate in the Northern/Southern California March 4th Coordinating Committee meetings tomorrow, let’s examine a strike of students and workers that happened a few years back at UC Santa Cruz.

Participants should recall the struggle that went down in the process of building for the strike: struggle amongst various Left tendencies, struggle with union bureaucracies, and struggle with student organizations to participate in the strike effort.  The results are clear in the short film Estamos Aqui.

What March 4th will look like is not yet clear.  Organizing efforts have been happening in Oakland, and folks in San Francisco are preparing as well . . . Meanwhile organizers in LA are taking steps towards establishing March 4th Committees.  It’s becoming clear that a strong left wing tendency has potential to emerge as March 4th organizers and organizations are recomposed.  Let’s keep it moving.

student-worker unity