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The Internationalist
  December 2022

UCLA Internationalist Club Statement of Solidarity

Democrat-Brokered Deal Guts Key UC Strike Demands

VOTE NO! To Win,
Escalate Class Struggle

December 19: Early-morning picket of construction site at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).   (Internationalist photo)

For an Elected Mass Strike Committee

LOS ANGELES, December 18 – The time is now for University of California student workers to hold the line, stand fast and decisively reject the attempt to ram through an end-the-strike deal that would gut core demands they have been striking, marching, picketing and sacrificing for over the course of the past five weeks.

What’s at stake is the outcome of a struggle that in reality is crucial for all who work and study at UC, for education workers across the country, and for the labor movement as a whole. The tentative agreement (TA) pro­claimed on December 16, inked by a slim majority of the bargaining team for United Auto Workers Local 2865 and Student Researchers United-UAW, has all the marks of its patrons and promoters: the bosses that run the state and California’s education system as a whole. This TA, sponsored by the Democrats that control the bucks and call the shots for the UC tops, is now slated to be voted on starting tomorrow and ending this coming Friday, December 23.

In solidarity with thousands voicing outrage against this deal godfathered by Gov. Newsom’s hand-picked “mediator” (the budget-slashing mayor of Sacramento), we say: VOTE IT DOWN! Defying the powers-that-be that relentlessly demand a cave-in, rejecting all calls for demoralized defeatism, strikers should follow up a decisive “No” vote by taking the strike into their own hands and charting a course to WIN it.

Key to a winning strategy is escalating class struggle in alliance with powerful sectors of the workers and oppressed. Far from pie in the sky, this means building on promising steps that have grown over the course of this strike, hitting the UC bosses where it hurts. And it means fighting for and organizing elected mass strike committees on every UC campus, leading to a UC-wide mass strike committee through which the members – who after all are the union – can run the strike. This way, moreover, strike “leaders” who don’t actually reflect the will of the membership can be promptly unelected.

Faced with this TA, it’s not hard to see the answer to some basic questions: Does it come anywhere near meeting core demands that represent student workers’ crucial, unpost­pon­able needs? Does it genuinely ease, let alone end, the crushing rent burden? Was “peak power” ever actually brought to bear in the strike? Does the TA meet basic demands around childcare benefits, dependent healthcare, accessibility, ending nonresident supplemental tuition that discriminates against international students, let alone demands for a cost-of-living adjustment and cops off campus? Given that we all know the answer – Hell no, it doesn’t it’s time to VOTE NO!

In the drive to ram through a contract cutting the main wage demand by $20,000 (and with even the remaining raise not coming through for ages), we’re getting bombarded by claims that just don’t wash. They say strikers should go along to get along, since “unity” supposedly requires voting “yes” (?!), and – supposedly – the core demands can just be picked up again, in the sweet by and by. Those dividing strikers were UAW bureaucrats who signed a separate deal to send 12,000 of the strikers back to work earlier this month, and now are pushing to set up a new tier with this TA.

Such arguments are often echoed by those who greeted the move to “voluntary mediation” – a move our comrades denounced from the get-go. After the bargaining team majority slashed strike demands at the end of November (only to even further cut demands last week), the UCLA Internationalist Club and Class Struggle Education Workers warned (in a leaflet available online here): “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 pushed for more.”

The strike’s core demands are still as crucial as ever. Strike militants who, from the early days of the struggle, have pushed against limits declared by bosses and bureaucrats by picketing construction sites and loading docks – winning inspiring solidarity from workers who know that picket lines mean don’t cross – and who brought members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the ILWU (among other unions) to the picket lines, have helped point the way forward.

As the victorious Columbia strike showed, refusing to knuckle under to pressures to end the strike before core demands have been met can, when accompanied by effective strike escalation, open the way to victory – and help inspire others to fight. Determined class struggle can strike a powerful chord among workers outraged over the Democrats’ flagrant strike-breaking against the railway workers. From Amazon and Starbucks to the New School and UC, increasing numbers have been looking for a way to fight back and turn the tide against the unending capitalist attacks on the working class. VOTE DOWN THE TA – build and strengthen the struggle to WIN the UC strike! ■

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