Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thoughts on the current state of the union (UAW 2865)

        I've been debating whether I should comment on the blog that an anonymous group of individuals put up about the bargaining process, entitled "Paycheck First".  I don't know who's writing, but the writing is largely representative of the sorts of distortions, misrepresentations, and nonsense that is largely representative of the former leadership's writing style, going back to their interventions defending the process of bargaining the 2010.  As far as I can tell, the individuals writing the blog want us to go back to the approach to bargaining the contract that was taken in previous periods, which was to see the role of the rank and file of the union in the bargaining process as fairly minimal and to be sharply controlled by the leadership.  It's important to note that the Irvine campus rejected that position, first with the vote on the contract and second when the membership had an opportunity to vote in the triennial election of that same year.  Additionally, a number of their posts are fairly close to the comments and positions that have been taken by labor relations within the bargaining process.  I've come to expect very little from the former leadership, but I was a little surprised by their open capitulation to the logic of management.  I'm open to a substantial conversation about the process of bargaining, but the writing in this anonymous blog doesn't warrant much in the way of engagement.  At very least, the individuals writing this blog could show the courage of attaching their names to the various accusations they have made.

        To turn to the more substantial issue of actual bargaining, rather than the shadow theater of anonymous comments, we're moving out of the summer period of bargaining into the fall.  We've put a number of different proposals on the table, but our ability to put pressure on the administration substantially increases with school back in session.  We take our jobs at the bargaining table fairly seriously, but our ability to bargain a good contract is dependent on the active support and participation that we receive from the rank and file membership.  Along with the work that we have put at the bargaining table, we have been starting the process of getting folks involved at the campus level, including tabling, fliering, and talking to folks at their offices when we can find them.  We're looking forwards to getting in touch with a lot of folks during orientations.  We've also been working to make stronger alliances with the other student groups on campus, and with a number of unions as well, returning to the informal union coalition that tentatively got formed last year.  Those alliances were quite evident at the bargaining that occurred in Irvine, with union and student allies speaking up in support of our various demands.  The contract that we're fighting for, one that would contribute to the defense of a genuinely public education, and in defense of social justice is going to take a lot of membership support.  We want a strong paycheck to make up for the years of sub-inflation raises we have received over the years, but we also want to use our contract to fight for underrepresented groups, to put caps in the amount of students are in our classrooms so that undergraduates receive a better education, and for cheaper housing and other issues.  We're hoping to see your participation in the variety of fights that are going to occur over fall quarter.

         We've been involved in this fight for a long time now.  Through our work in the public education movement, we've seen the University of California system move from double digit fee and tuition increases to a cap on tuition for the last couple of years.  This fight is never acknowledged by the former leadership of the union, because they played no role in it, refusing to ally themselves with the students and unions involved in it.  Instead, it was folks from AWDU who did that work, and contributed to those victories. With this new contract, we have the opportunity to move away from staunching the wounds of privatization and beginning to make gains for ourselves and for the public university.  AWDU has moved the union from the provincial backwaters that it used to occupy, and has placed it in the center of the struggles around the university, and the fight for a more just and democratic society represented by campaigns such as "Make Banks Pay".  Those fights have earned the union respect, and have led to alliances that can make that happen.  We're looking forwards to the fight.  The rank and file of our various campuses have the opportunity to get a strong contract through that process.


  1. No, it's not the former leadership. If you knew them well enough, you would realize this is not their style.

    You are not so far off in your guess, but it is not them. In fact, these are former leaders who were spurned by that former leadership you hate for, among other things, being too pro-wages. It goes to show once again that the enemies of your enemy are not necessarily your friends....

  2. I'm typically not favorable to having anonymous comments on union matters, but I will allow this to go by once. I'm deleting any other comments after this. You need to be able to put your name to your comments if you want to be involved in the conversation. A couple points, I'm fairly aware of the USEJ style of writing. It's actually very similar to this. As I noted, I don't know who is writing the blog. They have not identified themselves. Not the current folks but the elements of the older generation. I'm not sure what you mean by 'being too pro-wages.' I certainly consider the question of wages to be an extremely important one, indeed important enough to do want to do the research and receive the data from the administration to be able to understand the context of our own proposal. Our contract is not simply a matter of a paycheck, we're bargaining for issues such as discrimination, child care, and classroom sizes to name a couple substantial issues, but the idea of there being a division between a 'pro-wages' and an 'anti-wages' camp is fallacious. If you know who is writing the blog, I would encourage you to name them. I'll even let you do so anonymously in that context.

    1. "I'm typically not favorable to having anonymous comments on union matters, but I will allow this to go by once. I'm deleting any other comments after this. You need to be able to put your name to your comments if you want to be involved in the conversation."

      Is this stated policy somewhere, or did you just make this up because you didn't like my comment?

  3. If you have read the blog, I have made a point of saying this in other union postings. You're comment didn't upset me. It was just a little incomprehensible. As I noted, I was actually making an exception to leave it up. Other stuff, I don't mind anonymous comments, but if you want to continue this conversation about the union, you need to show me the respect that I have already shown to you by identifying yourself. The union is an organization where we are accountable to each other. I have never made a statement about it anonymously. Unless, you want to name names. Then go for it. I'll let you go without naming yourself.