DSA-Santa Cruz endorses the wildcat strike by graduate students at UC Santa Cruz

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!

In Solidarity,

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: chancellor@ucsc.edu
Phone: 831-459-4291

    • Contribute to the strike fund to help defray any costs incurred during this historic strike!

Donate Here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-fund-for-striking-workers-at-ucsc

Statement of Solidarity: AFSCME, UPTE, CNA

The Santa Cruz chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) stands in solidarity with AFSCME Local 3299, UPTE-CWA Local 9119, and CNA members in their fight for a strong and fair contract. We recognize the necessity of direct action against an unfair bargaining process brought on by the University of California (UC) and we support the UC strikes not only at our local Santa Cruz campus but all across the state.

Some of our membership, who consist of current and former UC students, remember our fights against the Board of Regents for their neglect not just for their employees but for their students as well. We recognize that a “world-class” university cannot hold its title in full truth until education is free and its workers are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. This is why we must acknowledge that this strike, like the rest of the strikes in public education around the country right now,  is as much about raising the quality of education for students as it is raising the quality of jobs for the workers who work tirelessly to serve the future generations of our country.

The University claims to respect their workers and their actions reflect otherwise. The University proposes to cut salary step increases, raise the retirement age and placing retirement security into the hands of risky 401Ks, cut health care benefits, and make it easier to contract out their jobs. Furthermore, the UC is attempting to force such a contract upon its workers. All of these proposals and actions are unjustifiable as the Board of Regents and Chancellors make excessive six-figure salaries with continuous pay increases. It is morally reprehensible that the Regents expect cuts on their workers that they are not willing to impose on themselves. Enough is enough.

Without the workers, there is no University of California. DSA Santa Cruz stands with AFSCME, UPTE, and CNA in their strike and will contribute, to the best of our ability, in their fight to win what is long overdue to the workers of the UC.

Solidarity forever!
Democratic Socialists of America, Santa Cruz