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The Internationalist
  December 2022

UCLA Internationalist Club Statement of Class-Struggle Solidarity

On Strike Means Shut It Down! Cops Off Campus!

Cave In? Hell No!
Escalate the Strike to Win!

For an Elected Mass Strike Committee

Members of Los Angeles area unions come out to show solidarity at UC strike picket lines, November 29.   (Internationalist photo)

No to Any Sellout!
54K, COLA, Full Childcare Benefits,
Accessibility, End of NRST and PDST...

LOS ANGELES, December 4 – The strike of 48,000 University of California student workers is at a crossroads – a decisive turning point. As we enter the fourth week of the largest higher ed strike in U.S. history, the strikers (who are members of United Auto Workers union locals 2865, 5810 and SRU-UAW) have been fighting for demands that are crucial for us all. Pickets and marches have resound­ed with the determination to win. In recent days strikers have carried out building occupations at various UC campuses. Teaming up with union militants who’ve scored important successes in stopping deliveries, we’ve built strategic pickets of construction sites, bringing in members of several key L.A. labor sectors to show the power of workers solidarity. (The London Guardian [2 December] reports: “even construction staff have put down their tools in solidarity.”)

Across the country, workers and students are watching this fight between the notoriously high-handed bosses of a huge university and tens of thousands of participants in a historic strike. In fighting against poverty pay, the crushing burden of sky-high rent, and basic needs on the job, UC strikers are taking a stand that is important for millions of working people. And it comes at a time of major promise and challenges for organiz­ing and struggle from coast to coast, from Amazon to the current strike by UAW members at the New School in New York City. So what happens in the UC strike will have an effect on many other present and future struggles. Together with Class Struggle Education Workers, the student and union activists of the UCLA Internationalist Club say that of all this makes the fight for victory to the UC strike even more urgent and imperative today.

To download a printable pdf of this leaflet, click on image.

And now the question of power and determination in this battle is posed point-blank. Right now really is the most crucial moment, in an academic workers’ strike: when exams, grading and research deadlines are just around the corner. When, at such a moment, a push comes down from above trying to disorient strikers into retreat by peddling the lie that the strike is past its “peak power,” it’s time to push back, hard. So the time has come to not just stand fast for what strikers have been fighting for all along, but to intensify the struggle, and organize the means of winning it.

This means decisively rejecting attempts by the bosses – and by the UAW union bureaucracy acting as a conveyor belt for pressure from the UC administration and its ruling-class/Democratic Party godfathers – to shove a sell-out deal down the throat of those who have been waging this crucial strike. Remember: the members are the union, and must exert their organized will in the fight for their needs and demands.

Mass meetings of strikers should be held now, on every campus, to vote to uphold the strike’s original demands; to continue – and intensify – the strike, rejecting any sellout; to reaffirm the call for cops off campus; and to organize concretely for the next steps in the struggle. The same kind of votes should be held in any and all scheduled union meetings, and in departments, inter-campus or UC-wide meetings, etc. And needless to say, the rotten, divide-and-conquer “tentative agreements” for postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers need to be ripped up. One out, all out, no one goes back until we all win. Remember why the strike’s demands were adopted in the first place: because of what UC’s student workers need.

Key now to the fight is forming an elected, mass strike committee here at UCLA, with representatives elected (and recallable) from each department, lab, etc. We need to make UCLA a bastion of opposition to any sellout, pushing forward the struggle for the strike’s full demands. Such strike committees should be created at the other campuses too, as part of a UC-wide delegated strike committee by means of which the membership can make the decisions in the strike and control how it – including the bargaining – is run.

“If We Don’t Get It ” – Do What?

“SHUT – IT – DOWN!” For 21 days and counting, that’s been the chant. But to use a term that’s going around these days, “peak power” has not even come close to being brought to bear in the strike. Having not gotten the demands the strike was called for, it’s high time to move from chanting the slogan shut it down to actually putting it into practice. A year ago, Columbia strikers’ day of action to shut the campus down was the turning point for winning their strike.

Here at UC today, far from backing down, it’s time to escalate the strike. What this requires is not only well-organized, disciplined, all-out strike militancy, but a program of class struggle bringing in key sectors of the workers and oppressed. It's a question of power. Among other things it is crucial that all classes be cancelled, that no grading or exams go forward, and that construction, deliveries and every other kind of UC business as usual grind to a halt. Picket lines mean don’t cross!

Yet at this key moment, what are union bureaucrats trying to shut down? Not the bosses’ anti-strike machinations – but the strike itself. That’s the meaning of last Wednesday’s bargaining team (BT) vote. By a margin of 10 to 9, the UC-wide union BT, having thrown COLA under the bus, voted to drastically slash core strike demands, to reduce to 43K the demand for $54,000/year minimum pay for graduate workers and cut the childcare reimbursement demand by almost half – while ditching others completely. These include dependent healthcare coverage and disabled workers’ demand for better accessibility without having to show medical documentation. Meanwhile the demand to end Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition – a call crucial for international students – hangs in the balance as the bargaining team has already shown willingness to put it on the chopping block and has dropped the demand for ending professional fees.

Yet today the demands that 48,000 UC student-workers have been organizing and fighting for remain as crucial as ever. A particularly vital part of our struggle is for cops off campus. Just days ago UC Riverside called the cops against strikers occupying the UCPath financial services center. In New York on November 21, the NYPD crashed the membership meeting of Students Workers of Columbia–UAW. And let’s not forget that the 1964 Free Speech Movement was waged against repression meted out by UC’s “corporate university” ideologues – nor that in 2020, then-UC president Janet Napolitano, previously America’s top cop, sent riot police to brutally beat COLA strikers.

So what about the BT' s vote last Wednesday for a package of massive retreats? The razor-thin majority that pushed the vote through reflects the illegitimacy of this capitulation – which has been met with outrage. As for coaxing the employer to please “move” on union demands by slashing some and ditching others, against the will of the members and when the crucial test of power is right around the corner – this is a stark example of the delusional “logic” of class collaboration.

If capitulation to the UC administration is not stopped, defeated and reversed now by the union membership, fighting for the strike’s full demands, this BT vote will be just the beginning, opening the way for even bigger retreats as the employer pushes for more. Such a sell-out would make the UAW bureau­cracy’s stabbing the 2020 COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) strike in the back pale in comparison.

To win the struggles of the workers and oppressed, the burning need is for a class-struggle leadership. This is inseparable from the fight to free labor’s power from the death grip of U.S. imperialism’s Democratic Party, and all capitalist parties and politicians – from ex-UC president Napolitano to L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and California governor Gavin Newsom, on up to the halls of Congress and the White House. The urgency of breaking from the Democrats and building a class-struggle workers party was highlighted yet again by the Democrats’ open strike-breaking against the railway workers. (And here yet again Biden, Pelosi & Co. were backed up by the “Squad.”) The Internationalist Club stands for a socialist revolution to throw out the capitalist exploiters, replacing their system of racism and imperialist war with workers rule here and around the world.

Today at UC, they’re not trying (yet) to illegalize our strike outright – but they are trying to cow us into submission. Will we let that happen? We say: no way! Let solidarity with the railway workers, and workers everywhere, be one more reason to strengthen collective determination to take the steps urgently needed now, to win the University of California strike! On strike means – shut it down! ■

For more info, or to get involved, contact the UCLA Internationalist Club: