We are in a crucial moment for labor organizing, nationwide. After more than a generation of demobilization, union-busting and retreat we are finally seeing the shoots of a vibrant and militant labor movement poking through the cold ground of neoliberalism. Education workers are leading the way in this, with strikes in West Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Chicago and Los Angeles as only the most visible examples of this inspiring wave of organizing. We are thrilled, both to see this wave of militancy move into the higher education sector, and to see it come to Santa Cruz, where rents are some of the highest in the country.
We see in this strike the intersection of many of the different struggles that DSA-Santa Cruz has been organizing around. Like most workers in Santa Cruz, graduate teaching assistants struggle under oppressive levels of rent burden. Grad student workers have canvassed alongside us for rent control and to elect council members who support tenant protections. And with us, they have seen those efforts frustrated by a powerful real estate lobby that poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local election. In all of this, their employer (and in many cases, their landlord) stood cynically by on the sidelines – refusing to meaningfully raise wages and refusing to do anything to help rein in housing costs.
Now, in the face of inaction and apathy by the UCSC administration, these student workers – led by rank-and-file militants – have followed the successful example of West Virginia teachers by going on wildcat strike. We applaud their decision and condemn the intimidation and threats of retaliation they have received from the UCSC administration. We join in their demand that the university immediately grant the cost of living adjustment (COLA).
We also enthusiastically applaud the decision to step outside of business-unionism, “no strike” clauses, and the narrow confines of an approach to contract negotiations that is pathologically obsessed with decorum and labor peace. A labor movement capable of beating back the winter of neoliberalism, privatization, and Trumpism will be a labor movement of wildcat strikes, unpredictable tactical swerves, and unbridled enthusiasm. It will be a labor movement that looks, and feels, like the electrified UCSC campus does this week.
We see in this strike a model to be followed in other unions and an ideal to aspire to for our comrades working on labor issues in other DSA chapters. We are watching (and participating) in this action with renewed energy to build the labor movement that we need.
To the real estate interests that rule this town, to the University administrators and bosses, let this be a wake up call. You cannot count on the fact that workers and renters who form the majority of the population, will forever absorb the double blows of increasing rents and low wages.
Graduate student workers have struggled with us against the privatization of the university and the inflation of a student debt bubble, they have fought alongside us against the rising tide of fascism in the country, against the militarization of our borders and the criminalization of our undocumented and houseless neighbors. They have marched with us for the climate and they have canvassed with us for rent control and the decommodification of housing. They have stood alongside us for a more militant and powerful labor movement.
Now it is time for us to stand with them. Their cause is righteous, their tactics and strategy are correct. COLA NOW!
DSA Santa Cruz
How you can help:
First, solidarity means showing up. Wildcat strikes are inherently unpredictable, but when we hear of rallies and events, we will keep DSA-Santa Cruz informed and we hope many of you turn out! To stay in the loop, you can text “wildcat” to 844-936-0993 to receive text updates on the strike.
- Call/email administration and tell them that you support the strike and that Grad Students deserve a COLA! Contact info:
Chancellor Cynthia Larive
Email: [email protected]
- Contribute to the strike fund to help defray any costs incurred during this historic strike!